How to Lead Effective Meetings
It is easy to host a meeting. It is easy to attend a meeting. However, neither of these actions ensure meeting delivers value. In the future we’ll talk about how to effectively participate in meetings, but for now we’re going to focus on what it takes to lead an effective meeting.
First and foremost, let’s define an effective meeting as one where:
- There is a clear goal
- The necessary people are present
- The meeting is organized to achieve the goal, with appropriate homework done before the meeting and action items tracked for after the meeting
If only all meetings could check these three boxes.
The common and obvious first problem is that most meetings lack clear goals. That is, there is no explicit objective for the meeting. This makes it very easy to drift off course and very hard to achieve what was actually needed. In PeachyHR we have an explicit field to capture the purpose of a meeting. We’ve even been so bold as to make it impossible to create a meeting without a purpose!
In terms of participants, the most likely scenario is that a meeting has too many people or not enough. Getting the right people to the meeting is hard. Politics and FOMO aside, this can be mitigated by specifying a clear agenda, with explicit ownership for each topic. This helps a generative organization self-select if a meeting is relevant and what preparation should be done. In PeachyHR we have an agenda builder which allows for the collaborative creation of meeting agendas which can be easily seen ahead of the meeting and re-ordered at will.
Lastly, the conclusion of a meeting is rarely the conclusion of the work. Meetings are for collaboration and to jointly define and assign the follow-up action items which are necessary to move the organization forward. The problem is that these action items end up residing in word documents and emails. The last place that people want to look for “todos”. We addressed this in PeachyHR with an integrated action item capability. This allows for action items to be defined and assigned directly within the context of the meeting. No extra work is required to then disseminate or copy & paste actions into personal productivity software. Amazing!
Not every meeting will be perfect, but they can at least be perfect in the ways we discussed. Handling the core logistics and using tooling to focus on the meeting content is a huge step in the right direction, and a foundational organizational capability to drive performance through collaboration.
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About the author
Chris has spent his career admiring and analyzing high performance teams and organizations in tech. He is now fortunate to lead one of these teams.
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