5 Key Principles for Conducting Productive Meetings: A Guide to Streamlining Discussions

If you observe carefully, you will notice that many companies have a problem-oriented approach to meetings. They call for meetings whenever there is a problem, which leads to a high number of internal meetings. Additionally, problems seem to arise incessantly.

The methodology used in meetings determines two things for a company: efficiency and quality. The effectiveness and quality of work are determined by the meeting methodology, so we should not underestimate the importance of having a proper meeting methodology.

So, how should meetings be conducted? There are five principles that are particularly important.

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01-Discussion of action plans, not problems

Meetings must have a clear purpose, and all materials related to the topic should be prepared in advance. If a meeting is not prepared, it should not be held. This is a very clear requirement.

For example, in a monthly business analysis meeting, the theme is to examine whether the action plans for the goals are actually implemented. Each person reporting must discuss their action plans, not the difficulties they have encountered or the reasons for not achieving the goals.

The ultimate purpose of a meeting is to solve specific problems and implement actions. Therefore, the core of a meeting is primarily about discussing action plans, not opinions or problems. As you can see in the picture, Huddles.app can help you summarize all the resultes and actions.

02-Who is responsible for chairing the meeting?

Generally, the person responsible for problem-solving should chair the meeting. Only the person responsible will make every effort to ensure that the meeting produces results.

If someone who is not responsible for the problem chairs the meeting, they will simply go through the motions of facilitating the meeting without caring about the outcome. This is a significant mistake in terms of methodology.

Many companies like to have the boss chair meetings, but I suggest that, except for strategic meetings, the boss should not chair meetings. Only strategic meetings are the boss’s responsibility, and others should be delegated to someone else.

For example, product meetings and operational meetings do not require the boss to chair them; they should be chaired by the person in charge.

03-Meeting no longer than 40 minutes

The duration of meetings should be agreed upon and include four time elements:

  1. Start and end time.
  2. Speaking time.
  3. Time for participants to reach consensus on decisions.
  4. Time to confirm action plans.

There is one particular point to note: except for strategic, annual, or semi-annual meetings, daily meetings should not exceed 30 minutes, with a maximum of 40 minutes. Huddles.app has timer for each meeting and each meeting section.

Why should meetings be short? There are two reasons.

The first reason is that the attendees are usually in important positions, and the longer the meeting, the higher the cost for the company.

The second reason is that the length of a problem-solving meeting is not related to time but to the preparation beforehand. The more thorough the preparation, the more efficient the meeting will be. Therefore, daily meetings should be kept short.

04-To eliminate the phrase “discuss it next time”

In any management meeting, there must be conclusions. We cannot leave an issue unresolved and say “we’ll discuss it next time”.

If discussions go on without reaching a decision, or if the meeting frequently goes off track with participants sticking to their own opinions, it is unlikely that effective decision-making can take place.

I suggest that everyone adjusts to a new approach: after the daily meeting, everyone should have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and then proceed to take action.

05-Three meetings clarify customer value.

I always advise managers to hold three types of meetings within their companies:

  1. Meeting with the core management team to discuss and define the customer value created by the company.
  2. Meeting with the product development team to understand their perception of the customer value while developing products.
  3. Meeting with the sales team to learn how they communicate the customer value when marketing the company.

Why hold these three meetings?

The reason is that one common mistake we often make in business is having inconsistent communication of customer value throughout the entire company.

Based on my research on hundreds of companies, I have found surprising discrepancies in the internal understanding and communication of customer value, let alone the external perception by consumers. When these discrepancies are significant, it leads to internal waste and major operational issues.

Many companies lack meetings that specifically focus on discussing the overall company value. Instead, they primarily hold management meetings rather than operational meetings.

I have participated in monthly meetings in several companies where we discussed the market, customers, and value creation. However, most of these meetings revolved around:

  • Did we achieve our budget goals?
  • What were the reasons for not achieving them?
  • What are the plans for the next month?
  • What are the reasons we may or may not achieve them?
  • Analyzing the reasons for not achieving them in the following month.

Conclusion

Such meetings do not contribute to the overall management of the company.

The purpose of holding these three types of meetings is to ensure consistent understanding of customer value throughout the entire company. If there is a lack of alignment in the perception of customer value, it can lead to significant losses for the organization. (End of the article)


Author: Jameson Thompson

Remote meeting expert with over 10 years of experience in virtual collaboration and communication.

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