Tips to make meetings awesome

After my last post about meetings I started talking to small teams about how to get started with a new culture of meetings. I’d like to sum up a few things that have helped them.

1. Change the routine

Get up out of your chair! For a change of pace, have your next status meeting in the break room, or your next strategy session in the boss’s office. To change culture, you have to shake things up in a way that can’t be ignored. Start with a dance party? Yoga? Snacks? Guitar Hero?

2. Always assume everyone else’s time is more valuable than yours

Even if you’re the CEO, if you approach every meeting with that attitude, the burden is immediately on you to make the time in the meeting the best use of everyone else’s time. Sometimes that means stifling a non-productive comment. Sometimes it means offering help. Often it just means listening attentively.

3. Always assume everyone is listening carefully

Despite outward appearances, people are generally good listeners when they respect you and see that’s what you expect. Don’t lower your expectations!

4. Do we really need our phones/laptops/tablets?

It’s hard to focus on the discussion at hand while also paying attention to the many digital notifications of modern life. If at all possible, leave the tech outside the meeting room or at least silenced and face down in the middle of the table.

5. Get back to work

Meetings are about communication and they can be essential, but when they’re done, leave! There’s no reason to “use the last few minutes” for something else or “take advantage of having everyone together”. I consider it a big WIN when I can finish a 15 minute meeting in five minutes.