Improving Meetings


There are two primary reasons to improve meetings across any organization.

Understanding meetings

Meeting Structure

Breaking the above down into sections:

When to Schedule Meetings

When to schedule meetings

Meetings are the most expensive type of communication in an organization as it is synchronous. When I mean synchronous I mean that the people really have to all find the time to join the meeting at the time and dedicate all of their attention to that meeting during the time the meeting is happening.

When you start looking into scaling organizations, the key is to improve asynchronous communications. ie people can work on their schedules and timelines without having to dedicate their full time to a meeting. The best way to do this is to allow topics to be discussed via async means (like emails, discussion threads etc). The owner typically should prepare a succinct and precise description of the problem at hand and then socialize and circulate the materials for review to the appropriate people who might have input. A discussion could happen offline through that same communication channel. If there is convergence on the topic then the discussion is complete and no further action (or meeting) is needed.

When there is significant divergence or lack of alignment then a meeting might be required and should then be scheduled.

Organizing Meetings

How to schedule meetings

When a meeting is required, it is important to follow the following steps to make the meeting as effective as possible. The meeting owner will have to strongly prepare for the meeting in advance and will have to circulate the materials as PRE-READ materials ahead of the meeting. Ideally, these materials should be short and easy to consume and distributed at least 2 days before the meeting so that everyone has a chance to review these materials.

The meeting then actually takes place following the meeting best practices highlighted above. Finally, a follow-up email is sent with summary and action items to a wider audience for any comments.

Responsibilities of meeting organizer and attendees

Meetings owners have specific responsibilities

Meeting attendees also have the following responsibilities

Read Part 2 of Improving Meetings.

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