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9 common-sense rules for getting the most out of meetings

Asertiveness and open-mindedness

It is up to the meeting leader to balance conflicting perspectives, push through impasses and decide how to spend time wisely.

If you’re running the conversation, you should be weighing the potential cost in the time that it takes to explore opinions of inexperienced employees versus the potential gain in being able to assess their thinking and gain a better understanding of what they’re like.

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9 common-sense rules for getting the most out of meetings

9 common-sense rules for getting the most out of meetings

https://ideas.ted.com/9-common-sense-rules-for-getting-the-most-out-of-meetings/#

ideas.ted.com

9

Key Ideas

Goals and directors of a meeting

Without someone clearly responsible, meetings have a high risk of being directionless and unproductive.

Every meeting should be aimed at achieving someone’s goals; that person is the one responsible for the meeting and decides what they want to get out of it and how they will do so. 

Align objectives with appropriate types of communication

Make clear what type of communication you are going to have in light of the objectives and priorities. 

If your goal is to have people with different opinions work through their differences (i.e., open-minded debate), you’ll run your meeting differently than if its goal is to educate.

Asertiveness and open-mindedness

It is up to the meeting leader to balance conflicting perspectives, push through impasses and decide how to spend time wisely.

If you’re running the conversation, you should be weighing the potential cost in the time that it takes to explore opinions of inexperienced employees versus the potential gain in being able to assess their thinking and gain a better understanding of what they’re like.

Watch out for “topic slip"

Topic slip is random drifting from topic to topic without achieving completion on any of them. 

One way to avoid is by tracking the conversation on a whiteboard so that everyone can see where you are.

Enforce logic in conversations

People’s emotions tend to heat up when there is a disagreement. Remain calm and analytical at all times; it is more difficult to shut down a logical exchange rather than an emotional one. 

Assigning personal responsibilities

Often, groups will make a decision to do something without assigning personal responsibilities, so it is not clear who is supposed to follow up by doing what. 

Be clear in assigning personal responsibilities.

The “2-minute rule”

It establishes that you have to give someone 2 uninterrupted minutes to explain their thinking, before jumping in with your own. 

This ensures everyone has time to communicate their thoughts without worrying they will be misunderstood or drowned out by a louder voice.

Watch out for assertive “fast talkers

They things faster than they can be assessed, as a way of pushing their agenda past other people’s examination or objections. 

If you’re feeling pressured, say something like, “I’m going to need to slow you down so I can make sense of what you’re saying.” Then, ask your questions. 

Achieve completion in conversations

Conversations that fail to reach completion are a waste of time. 

When there is an exchange of ideas, it is important to end it by stating the conclusions. If there is agreement, say it; if not, say that. When further action has been decided, get those tasks on a to-do list, assign people to do them, and specify due dates

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The first 5-7 minutes of a meeting

....is the most important component for conducting more effective meetings.

It establishes the parameters, organizes the terms of reference and tells everybody in the room w...

Begin right on time

During a meeting, do not penalize the people who were there on time by waiting for others who are late. 

Assume that the latecomer is not coming at all and get right on with the meeting.  

Encouraging open discussions
Leaders should take up the role of facilitators and avoid dominating the discussions.

During meetings, it’s very important to get input from everybody, not only from those eager to contribute but even from those who are shyer and less likely to speak up.  

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What makes meetings effective
  1. They achieve the meeting's objective.
  2. They take up a minimum amount of time.
  3. They leave participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed.
The Meeting's Objective
An effective meeting serves a useful purpose. This means that in it, you achieve a desired outcome.

For a meeting to meet this outcome, or objective, you have to be clear about what it is.

To prepare an agenda, consider the following factors:
  • Priorities – what absolutely must be covered?
  • Results – what do you need to accomplish at the meeting?
  • Participants – who needs to attend the meeting for it to be successful?
  • Sequence – in what order will you cover the topics?
  • Timing – how much time will spend on each topic?
  • Date and time – when will the meeting take place?
  • Place – where will the meeting take place?

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7 ways to have efficient meetings
  1. Decide if the meeting is necessary in the first place.
  2. Establish a clear purpose for the meeting and write up an agenda.
  3. Start on time and stop on time.
No big meetings

Don't hold large meetings, except if they are providing value to everyone. Then keep the meeting short.

A typical meeting should involve no more than 4 - 6 people. Before you send out your ne...

No added value

If you are invited to a meeting but realize that you do not add value, leave.

This advice might at first seem shocking, but if the whole team can view this rule as beneficial and use it tactfully, it can help build authenticity and transparency in an organization.

No frequent meetings

Get rid of regular meetings unless you are dealing with a pressing matter. Once the issue is resolved, the meeting frequency should drop.

Ask yourself how urgent the need behind the meeting is and if you can instead reduce the frequency and communicate via email or group chat.

Probe Work That Seems Ok

If the work is reported to be ok or fine by your subordinates, maybe you need to dig in deep and probe more.

The employee reporting to you may be struggling and not providing the true detail...

Strategize Around Strengths 

It pays to highlight the strength an employee brings and then to work on minimizing the weak aspects. Start and work with the impact and value the employee is making to your team.

Define Ownership

Ownership and accountability need to be defined so that your team knows who is responsible for what.

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Adopt GTD Methodology in Email

think of every email you get as either something you need to take action on, track, or refer to later. 

Every time you open a conversation, decide right away what to do with it. D...

Create an Email Productivity System

There’s no “definitive” system. The best framework is the one that works for you. Ideally, it should model your work style, supporting the way you work. Bonus points if it’s low-maintenance, fast to set up, and adaptable as your work changes.

Some people like to use folders with specific actions (do, delegate, reply), while others prefer the deadline-driven approach (today, tomorrow, next week).

Power Up Your Email with Plugins

Some examples:

  • Undo Send: for when you accidentally press the send button.
  • Canned Responses: create a template that you can reuse with canned responses.
  • Send and Archive: Automatically archive an email after replying to it using the send and archive button.

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1:1 meetings
1:1 meetings

1:1 meetings matter. It is important to nurture that essential employee-manager relationship. But it still not easy to get right.

Under pressures, managers are still juggl...

1:1 category

The goal of an effective 1:1 is not an update from your direct report or for you to lay down some instructions. It's a conversation. It's a chance to hear about your direct reports' ideas for your product, their career goals, and possibly their opinion of their performance.

Keep a list of three potential topics ready for discussion. When they say they have nothing to discuss, you can jumpstart the conversation with one of your items.

Manager's best tool

Your most precious resource is your own time and energy. When you spend it on your team, it helps build healthy relationships.

Your job as a manager isn't to give advice or 'save the day.'' It's to empower your reports to find the answer themselves. If you want to understand what's going on, ask. Let her lead the conversation while you listen and probe.

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Stress + Rest = Growth

You need to push to the outer limits of your current ability, and then follow that hard work with appropriate recovery time.

This is how you grow your mind and get better at any skill....

Focus on the Process

The best athletes and entrepreneurs aren’t focused on being the best; they’re focused on constant self-improvement.

Concentrating on the process is best for both performance and mental health. It lifts off your shoulders a huge burden, so you can concentrate on the things you can control.

Stay Humble

Knowledge is always evolving and advancing — if you want to evolve and advance with it, you need to keep an open mind.

And to keep an open mind, leave your ego at the door. 

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A Meeting With Conflict

When polarizing topics are discussed in meetings, it can turn into a fight. In these conflicts, where passions run high, people tend to confuse correlation with causation while determining the rea...

Hanlon's Razor

This mental model states that most actions made by people need not be categorized as malicious or intentionally bad, but simply a sign of incompetence and acting out of fear.

Many poor decisions and actions are not intentional but due to ineptitude. By following this mental model, we untie ourselves from unnecessary negativity and work towards a solution.

Relativity

The mental model of relativity states that everyone's outlook, viewpoint and perspective are different from ours.

The same situation is looked in different ways by people, and understanding these variations can help us toward a meaningful dialogue with them. We can diffuse any inherent conflict by hearing out and identifying what we understand, making the other person feel listened to.

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Change the setting sometimes

Occasionally, go for a walk and have your 1:1. Occasionally, go get coffee. Go sit in the courtyard. Get lunch or breakfast or dinner. Most often, it’s probably easiest and most efficient to...

It's ok to cancel

If there’s nothing to discuss, it’s ok to cancel. People, too often, view 1:1s as mandatory, but it’s refreshing when you both acknowledge that things are ok for now, or the time may be better spent other ways.

Let the employee own the agenda

It is a simple, symbolic practice that helps them feel ownership and autonomy for their work and their time. 

You’re saying, “You tell me what’s important,” and of course you can coach and guide them to help refine over time what’s important. 

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