Meetings have an intended purpose

Meetings have an intended purpose

Some people try to use meetings to achieve things that meetings won't work for. That can turn an intelligent group into a dull and mean monster.

Types of meetings to avoid:

  • Daily standups or status updates.
  • Anything without an agenda.
  • A meeting with too many people.
  • Brainstorming from scratch.

It's not that all meetings are bad, just that there are better tools to accomplish the job.

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To consider if a regular meeting should happen, drop them and see what happens.

A team can have a meeting every second week and still feel like they get enough face-time. While it is easy to default to a weekly meeting, we should ask ourselves if it is necessary.

Meetings can be very effective for building on ideas but not for working from scratch.

People should come prepared to brainstorming sessions to bounce ideas around, but it is only helpful if everyone brings a few ideas or pitches. Otherwise, people sit in awkward silence.

A bot can replace the daily standup meeting to quickly find out want everyone on your team is doing. The bot asks all the questions that usually come up during standup, compiles them into a report and posts everything in a public channel.

You don't have to build a bot. A daily email thread or a quick post in your team chat app can let everyone know what you're up to.

A meeting where people can't stick to an agenda should not take place.

Meetings should be an exception, not the rule. If you can't explain in an agenda what the meeting is for, you shouldn't have one. If everything on the agenda is dealt with, you should end the meeting, even if there is time left.

Five people can have a productive meeting, but 300 people can't.

Jeff Bezos uses the two-pizza rule to decide if he will attend a meeting: He will only attend if two pizzas can feed the whole group. The basic idea is that one should consider where to draw the line for your team. If the meeting is not productive, cut back on the number of people you invite.

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Manage your expectations

We all need uninterrupted work time every day, regardless of our role. Unbroken work makes us more motivated and focused. Yet uninterrupted calendar blocks are hard to design into a schedule.

We can't productively attend to meeting-heavy days while also spending hours on uninterrupted work time. We need to manage our expectations about what we can accomplish.

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