Meetings often get a bad reputation; considered by many to be time-wasting and often unproductive, there are numerous memes, jokes and cartoons depicting the pointless ramble of the typical meeting, often summed up by the punchline “couldn’t this have been put in an email?”.
Many of us still haven’t quite got the art of the meeting right yet, especially as the number of meetings is increasing dramatically. Research from HBR shows meeting frequency and length have increased over the past 50 years, and you’ll now find executives spending an average of 23 hours a week in meetings – a massive increase from the 1960s, when the average weekly total was just 10 hours.
But we can’t blame the humble meeting for all this unproductive behaviour – it’s down to how we manage our meetings and how we organise successful meetings, which can be done in 6 simple steps: 1. Do you need a meeting? 2. Who should you invite? 3. The length of the meeting 4. Your meeting room requirements 5. how to incorporate global attendees and 6. The best meeting room solution.
Inviting the right people
Inviting the right people to the right meeting seems simple, but is often overlooked. Getting the right people in the room is the foundation for a successful and productive meeting.
As a side note, as well as deciding who to invite we also need to empower employees to decline meetings when it’s not necessary for them to attend. Our colleagues in Singapore lead by example: how to create great quality meetings.
We know it’s not rocket science, but there is a formula to inviting the right people to the right meeting. Who do you need versus who do you want, and what value will they offer to get your desired output?
need v want + value = output
Who do you need in a meeting?
Need: “Require (something) because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable.” – Oxford Dictionary
Who do you need in your meeting to make it a productive? Consider who is relevant to the discussions you’ll be having, and whether they’ll have important contributions to make to your discourse. Of course, you’ll want to invite everyone that’s essential to the meeting, but be careful of going overboard and sending invites just for the sake of it – especially to senior management.
Who do you want in meeting?
Want: “Have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for.” – Oxford Dictionary
You may want them at your meeting, but are they vital to the success of your output? These people can be invited as optional, but they still need to offer help and relevancy to your set agenda. If it’s a creative meeting or brainstorm, perhaps you’ll want to invite some of the brighter sparks and those known for their innovative ideas.
What value will those individuals offer?
Value: “The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” – Oxford Dictionary
How much value are the individuals going to bring to the desired output? Are they able to contribute, offer value and insight? The aim is to have a table of employees who are all willing and able to bring something to the fold – we don’t want any shrinking violets or attendees who can’t provide anything useful.
It isn’t always easy to decipher who can bring value and who can’t, so consider a brief, informal discussion with potential attendees, to see just how much they’re able to bring to the meeting room table.
What is the desired output for your meeting?
Desire: “The amount of something produced by a person, machine, or industry.” – Oxford Dictionary
The people in your meeting need to be able to help decide, contribute to the output on the solution or approve the decision. Obviously, the desired output may vary, but ultimately the goal is always the same – to achieve something.
Think about who you need to reach that achievement: it might be decision makers or senior members of staff, innovators or technical team members. If you have a clear goal, you should be able to figure out all the finer details of your meeting, including your list of attendees.
If you follow these steps, it should be straightforward to create the perfect list of attendees, and from there, you’ll be well on your way to a productive meeting (one that nobody will moan about!). If in doubt, always keep the goal of your meeting in mind; you can hardly go wrong if you’re remembering to always find the path to meeting it.