6 Ideas to Increase the Efficiency of Your Next Meeting
No matter how comfortable your boardroom furniture may be, there is nothing more likely to send you to sleep than a poorly run meeting. Meetings can turn into a highly unproductive use of your time if they are not run properly. Here are six ideas which should increase the efficiency of your meeting.
Follow the Two Pizza Rule
As CEO of Amazon (and at times the world's richest man, depending on daily share prices), Jeff Bezos knows a few things about business. He has clearly run a few meetings in his time, too.
He understanding the time-wasting potential of meetings, however, and avoids unnecessary meetings wherever possible. He follows what he calls the Two Pizza Rule.
He recognises that the more people you have at a meeting the less productive it becomes. His rule of thumb, therefore, is that you should never hold a meeting in which two pizzas couldn’t feed the entire group.
Any more people than that and you have a meeting which stifles creativity and which limits your ability to make sound decisions.
Make Certain That All Meetings Have a Stated Purpose or Agenda
There is nothing worse than having a meeting simply for the sake of it. Having a scheduled staff meeting every Monday afternoon, for instance, is a great way to reduce productivity and increase resentment.
You need to have a stated purpose for any meeting. The meeting will also flow more smoothly if you have a clear agenda, which is known to all the participants.
Without a purpose and an agenda to follow, meetings drift. There is a danger that participants view the time as a time when they are forced to be together. and that the meeting will turn into an aimless social gathering, rather than a productive working session.
Open the Meeting with a Positive Round
Psychological experiments have shown that the way a meeting starts, sets the tone for the whole meeting. If you begin a meeting with complaints or you highlight people’s failings, then the rest of the meeting is likely to follow that negative beat. If people begin the meeting in a hostile mood, they are likely to remain that way for the meeting’s duration.
For example, it is common for businesses to begin meetings with participants telling the gathering what they are working on. Often these tales tell of complaints and problems. After this downbeat start, it is common for the whole meeting remains negative.
If instead, you begin your meeting in an upbeat fashion, you are more likely to have a meeting where people; focus on the positives of their work.
You could begin your meeting by having everybody answers a question such as:
• What is something you’ve achieved since the last meeting that you are proud of?
• Who has helped you since the last meeting?
• What are you looking forward to in the foreseeable future?
• What funny thing has someone told you in the last week?
• What is something interesting you have learned since the last meeting?
There Should Be No Judging When Brainstorming
Many meetings have the participants brainstorming for ideas. People are often quick to judge the validity of ideas in a brainstorming meeting. This has a negative consequence of shutting down discussion.
It helps to have a rule that any idea someone submits when brainstorming is written down, no matter how impractical it may seem on the surface. You should focus on capturing ideas initially, rather than critiquing them.
Later, when you evaluate all of the ideas, you may be able to adapt the more “way out” ideas, possibly combining them with other ideas to come up with something completely original.
Hold Standing Meetings
As an office furniture company, we don’t really want to discourage you from buying chairs for your meetings, but we do realise that some of the most productive meetings can occur when the participants are forced to stand.
You could use bar leaners, without bar stools. If the attendees are forced to stand they are less likely to settle and get comfortable. Instead, they are more likely to focus on the tasks at hand, in an effort to progress through the agenda and move forward as efficiently as possible.
Every Project or Component Should Have a DRI
DRI is an Apple philosophy. Every project or component in a meeting should have a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI).
Apple believes you should create an action list for every meeting. You need to attach a DRI to every item on that action list– a person directly responsible for the item. If you tag every task, there will rarely be any confusion about who is responsible for getting things done.
It is important that attendees walk away from a meeting knowing which clear action steps they need to take before the next meeting. Have a quick review at the end of each meeting to ensure that everybody knows the actions steps they are responsible for.
It is all too easy to become cynical about the efficiency of a meeting and to turn it into a waste of everybody's time. If you follow these steps you should be able to ensure your meetings have a purpose and give them real value.
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- Mark Redshaw