5 steps to improve your meetings today

Haley Johnson
Feb 10, 2020 · 3 min read
Image for post
Image for post

We’ve all experienced a bad meeting. Probably more often than we’d like to admit.

But more than just our personal experiences, the data says it all…

  • 220 million meetings are held in US businesses each year
  • Meetings compose 15% of teams’ collective time
  • Executives consider 67% of meetings a failure
  • $37 billion is wasted annually in unproductive meetings
  • Middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings, and senior managers spend 50% of their time in meetings
  • Meeting participants believe that 33% of meeting time is typically unproductive
  • 63% of all meetings conducted in America do not use meeting agendas
  • 90% of people daydream in team meetings
  • 73% of people work on other things during meetings

It’s pretty shocking.

If so many of us are having such a terrible experience, why haven’t meetings changed? It’s probably because most of us don’t know what good meetings look or feel like.

Or because we don’t feel like we have the power within the team to change it.

And because it’s hard to change human behavior.

Or maybe some of us don’t care enough to change it.

But don’t give up just yet. Our team has created a system for good meetings.

What does good mean? It means clear, productive, structured, and energizing.

Here are the 5 steps you can take to improve your meetings:

1. Establish a cadence.

Aim to have your meetings on the same day of the week (or month) and at the same time of day. This helps add consistency to everyone’s schedule and reaffirm the importance of the meeting. On the other hand, if the meeting is coming up and the team agrees that there wouldn’t be much value in having it this time around, cancel the meeting. Don’t meet for the sake of meeting.

2. Determine the purpose and rules of engagement.

A purpose is the reason why the meeting is occurring and the value it provides to the organization. The rules of engagement are how to contribute to the meeting. Rules are things like arriving on time, productively preparing for the meeting, and give feedback in an honest and respectful manner.

3. Set an agenda and write down discussion topics.

Create an agenda and follow it. Reduce meeting times by up to 80% by following an agenda and starting on time. Each person should review the agenda at least 24 hours before the meeting so everyone is on the same page. At the same time, each person should read and contribute to discussion topics for the meeting. If everyone productively prepares, the meeting will run smoother and the team will get more done.

4. Communicate clear roles and responsibilities.

Each person should know their part in each meeting. Facilitators, note-takers, and participants all play an important role, but make sure the responsibilities are communicated and occasionally rotate so everyone has a chance to play a different part. Decide this before the meeting takes place so each person can prepare accordingly.

5. Take notes and assign action items.

Take notes throughout the meeting. Before the meeting is over, recap the decisions made and who is responsible for each resulting action item. Make sure to follow-up on these action items in the next meeting.

By following these tips and working with our team, you can:

  • Free up more of your calendar
  • Hold your team accountable to the tasks everyone agreed to
  • Share better conversations
  • Make the right decisions as a team
  • Look back on what you discussed in previous meetings

Want to experience an effective team meeting for yourself? Book a free experiential session for your team.

Execute to Win

We help teams improve what’s most important, and it all…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store