Many people lament that their valuable working hours are wasted in endless meetings. In reality, meetings themselves aren’t the issue; it’s the manner in which they are conducted that leads to inefficiency.
The founder of a publicly-listed company has summarized 13 secrets for conducting effective meetings, and it’s worth your time to take a look.
Your AI-powered meeting assistant — Huddles
- All meetings need a clear type and purpose. Whether it’s for making a decision, solving a problem, or sharing information, first determine the type of meeting and then specify the meeting’s purpose. All actions should revolve around this purpose.
- Adequate preparation before the meeting enhances efficiency. For instance, having reading materials beforehand can help participants sync up on information, saving meeting time. If voting is required during the meeting, participants can make informed decisions based on the materials. This makes the discussion phase more efficient.
- Time is the most significant constraint for meetings; therefore, planning the meeting duration beforehand is essential. If a meeting consistently runs way over time, regardless of whether the purpose is achieved, it can be considered a failure.
- Clearly define roles before the meeting: facilitator, proposer, participants, decision-makers, observers, note-takers, all need specific roles assigned to them. Assigning roles helps keep everyone engaged. If roles aren’t defined, some participants may disengage and remain uninvolved.
- The facilitator should spend 5 minutes before the meeting to outline the agenda. This helps the organizer have a ‘bird’s eye view’ to coordinate the overall flow and time allocation. The benefit is that the meeting stays on track, doesn’t go over time, and ensures a productive conclusion.
- The facilitator’s most crucial task is to strictly adhere to the agenda’s time allocation and provide time reminders during each segment. This avoids a situation where one participant talks excessively, leaving insufficient time for others.
- Before starting the meeting, provide a brief introduction to the meeting’s topics, preferably within 5 minutes. This allows everyone to quickly gain a common understanding of the background for the discussion.
- During discussions, only one conversation should occur at a time, and only one person should speak at a time.
- The task of decision-makers is to give agreement or disagreement. If a single person or several individuals need to make decisions, it’s best to specify this in the meeting invitation. If not specified, all participants collectively make the decision.
- Observers should be present to familiarize themselves with the decision-making process and gather information. For meeting efficiency, observers must remain quiet like wallpaper throughout the meeting—having the right to listen but not make any noise.
- Meetings must have conclusions and clear next steps. At the end of the meeting, a 5-minute summary is necessary to confirm the next tasks, responsible individuals, and deadlines. Before the next similar meeting, spend 10 minutes reviewing the previous meeting.
- On the same day as the meeting, send out meeting minutes to participants. If not sent by 24:00, appropriate ‘punishment’ can be applied to the note-taker, such as sending red envelopes to participants.
- Encourage informal communication. For example, engage in conversations while smoking on the balcony, ask simple questions to neighboring seatmates, or have discussions during lunch breaks. Such interactions are more efficient than formal meetings.”
How Huddles can help
Huddles can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of meetings by providing a structured and organized approach to communication and collaboration. Here are some ways in which huddles can help:
- Clear Meeting Objectives: Huddles encourage participants to define clear objectives and purposes for their meetings. This ensures that everyone knows why they are meeting and what needs to be accomplished.
- Better Preparation: Huddles often require participants to come prepared with relevant information or updates. This preparation ensures that meetings are productive and focused.
- Time Management: Huddles typically have a fixed time duration, which encourages participants to stay on topic and avoid going off on tangents. This time constraint helps meetings stay efficient.
- Defined Roles: Huddles can assign specific roles to participants, such as a facilitator or a timekeeper. These roles help keep the meeting organized and ensure that everyone contributes.
- Agenda Setting: Huddles often include a predefined agenda, which helps keep the discussion structured and prevents the meeting from veering off course.
- Action Items: Huddles often end with action items and next steps. This ensures that decisions are made, responsibilities are assigned, and progress can be tracked.
- Transparency: Huddles can provide visibility into what is discussed and decided during meetings. This transparency helps keep team members informed and aligned.
- Collaboration: Huddles promote collaboration among team members, as they provide a regular forum for sharing updates, ideas, and feedback.
- Accountability: Huddles help hold participants accountable for their commitments and tasks, as action items are documented and tracked.
- Efficiency: By following a structured process, huddles can help reduce the overall time spent in meetings while still achieving the desired outcomes.
Overall, huddles are a valuable tool for improving communication, collaboration, and productivity within teams and organizations. They help streamline meetings, ensure that objectives are met, and drive better outcomes.