The Strategist

How to make your meetings productive

11/22/2019 - 09:10

We organize meetings to solve problems, generate ideas, and monitor the progress of the project. But often we get the opposite effect: lost time (and sometimes money), fatigue, uncertainty. So, how to conduct work meetings anyway?

Do you really need a meeting?

The first argument is not in favor of meetings: egoists love them. There is an audience that is going to listen. There, you can rise above all, reveling in your importance. It is easy to draw graphs, pretend that you carefully listen to the ideas of others, only to interrupt them and communicate your ingenious insight. For an egoist, a futile meeting looks like Christmas is for a six-year-old child. Better not to indulge such people.

Another problem with business meetings in the creative industry is that creative people are easily distracted. They like to have discussions, think about the problem for a long time, brainstorm and discuss again. They crave approval of others. Gather a group of creators for a poorly prepared meeting, and rest assured that nothing good will come of it.

When useless meetings hinder work, people have to work overtime to cope with the current workload.

Therefore, before looking into your calendar application, ask yourself: is it really necessary to arrange a meeting? Perhaps it’s enough to use email or a messenger? Or quickly discuss with the director critical comments and considerations of the client’s right at the workplace?

If we talk about creative work, then it is necessary (at least, preferably) to conduct business meetings in only two cases. First, these are project briefings. You cannot launch a single project without a carefully prepared briefing in the presence of the entire team, during which employees can get answers to all questions. Second, presentation of the work to the customer. A meeting is the best way to exchange views, answer questions and remove all doubts.

Meeting Rules

1. Invitation. Send it at least a day before the meeting: people should have time to prepare. And if time is running out, schedule a meeting for the afternoon of that day. The invitation should contain a number of key components:

Title. Choose a meaningful name, not a nonsense like "Updating the project." For example: “Discussing customer comments on brand X design.”

Purpose. Briefly outline the purpose of the meeting, for example: “Identify the next steps for developing a logo for brand X, based on the client’s latest comments.”

Time. Try to meet the minimum time. In most cases, 30 minutes are enough for actualization of the project.

Place. This point seems obvious, but is often forgotten.

Invited. The list should be as short as possible. Do not invite people whose presence is not necessary, or invite them to come if they themselves consider it necessary.

2. Progress of the meeting. The business meeting’s organizer is de facto also responsible for holding it, regardless of who he is - a senior project manager or junior designer. For a meeting to be productive, you must follow the following format.

Summarize the meeting’s purpose. Start any business meeting with the words: "The purpose of our meeting is: ...". For example: “Determining the next steps for developing a logo for brand X, based on the client’s latest comments.”

Express your wishes. State the meeting’s desired outcome. Need to clarify customer comments using questions from those present? Or just delegate a set of project work to team members? Speak as specifically as possible.

Be precise and laconic. Adhere to a clear, concise style in the discussion of the topic under discussion. No empty talks!

Call for questions. People often do not ask questions at meetings, so the organizer should actively encourage them to do so, so that there are no ambiguities after the meeting.

Define the following steps and distribute tasks. Identify specific steps and assign responsibility for each phase of the work. When leaving the meeting, everyone should have a clear idea of what is expected of them.

3. After the meeting. The organizer sends a short summary message to the team, which describes the main results of the meeting, the next steps and clearly defined roles and responsibilities, so that everyone knows the order of their actions and the area of responsibility. Often this is the most important part of the meeting, on which the team will focus and to refer in the future.

Based on "How to Do Great Work Without Being an Asshole" by Paul Woods

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