Have you already instituted a weekly meeting-free day? That’s right, one day every week where meetings aren’t allowed. Either way, you’re bound to still have meetings throughout the rest of the week. It’s worth the effort to make those remaining meetings more enjoyable and productive. Get ready to hustle. It’s time to amp up meetings!
1| Get on your feet.
Often called a stand-up, this meeting format has shifted from solely the tech industry to wider-spread corporate usage. In comparison, one study showed that sit-down meetings were 34% longer than stand-up meetings – and the decisions made weren’t necessarily better. So, get on your feet and expect positive outcomes, including:
- The meeting should end sooner. Even with minimal physical fatigue, people want to sit down. Expect a faster resolution to your meetings.
- Standing – or better yet, moving around – increases the activity and the energy in the meeting. Potentially, better ideas or more creative ideas may emerge.
- With everyone standing on the same horizontal plane, it subconsciously facilitates collaboration and equality within the group. Especially if you have a whiteboard (or other large writing surface), having everyone stand encourages anyone to take up a marker and share their ideas – not just the meeting organizer.
2| Start with a quick team-building activity.
It might sound corny, but these exercises can make a big difference with your team – even with just a few minutes. They’re especially helpful when your meeting involves remote workers, new team members or employees who simply haven’t worked together on a project before. A few ideas to get you started:
- Virtual high-fives: Ask each person to acknowledge something awesome from their team, their coworkers or even themselves!
- Phone photo pass: Pull up a favorite photo on your phone, pass it around the room and share the story that goes with it. The modern version of show and tell!
3| Keep the team focused with an agenda.
A brief agenda can work wonders to improve your meetings. Be clear about the intent for each agenda item – for example, sharing information, brainstorming and discussing solutions, making a decision, delegation, etc. If possible, include the agenda when you first send the meeting request. That way, invitees will know if they’re really the right person to attend. Hopefully, they’ll also spend more time preparing to meet the meeting’s goals.
Having a clear agenda also helps to box in the conversation. It encourages coworkers to leave their long-winded tangents for the water cooler – or at least a different meeting! You can also use sticky notes and the “Parking Lot” method to record topics or questions you intend to discuss later in the meeting. Also, the “Take It Offline” approach signals that a topic is not going to be covered in your meeting, but participants are welcome to discuss it on their own time.
4| Challenge the standard time slot.
Microsoft Office and Google Calendar have made meeting scheduling much easier – almost too easy. We can see when our colleagues are available and request that 30- or 60-minute timeslot. See if you can turn the tables on the standard meeting time by cutting yours by a quarter or even in half. How much can you really hustle?
5| Release the prisoners.
Not every meeting will be structured for this, but when you can, set up the agenda in a way so that certain employees can leave as early as possible while others may need to stay longer. Sometimes, you may only need people for the beginning of the meeting – say, the discussion and brainstorming phase – but not the decision phase. Take a smart approach to scheduling and release employees back to other productive work as quickly as possible. They’ll thank you for it!
Now You’re Hustling
Between your meeting-free day and these tips to make your remaining meetings more efficient, you should be well on your way to a more productive workplace – and a more enjoyable one. In an ideal world, your coworkers will see the value your meeting changes bring, and they’ll follow suit. Sometimes, great things start with just one.