Making Meetings Matter to Your Team

Making an Onerous Task a Useful One

Meetings, am I right? When was the last time you really got something you needed out of an internal meeting? Really think about it. A lot of businesses have trouble with meetings and it is not really surprising why. We’ve all had kind of a weird relationship with meetings and its probably due to a superior you’ve had in your past that formed your opinions on meetings. How can we save these necessary cornerstones of business? Here are a few questions you should before each meeting?

Why are we meeting?

The most important part of any meeting is having a clear objective. “We need to strategize for next quarter’s sales efforts.” “We need to choose a job candidate for the Front End Web Developer position.” These are examples of clear and concise objectives for a meeting. It is possible to have multiple objectives for a meeting but you should consider our next question before moving on.

Who needs to be there?

Who needs to be there, really? Meeting attendees can be broken into four subcategories:

  1. People who need to attend and need to provide their input in order to meet the objective.
  2. People who need to know what decisions are made so that they can carry out their jobs in an appropriate fashion. Their input may not be needed.
  3. People who can provide input but are not directly affected by the outcome of the meeting.
  4. People who are not related to the objective, cannot provide substantive input due to their position, will not be directly affected by the outcome of the meeting but regularly interact with attendees in the other categories.

So, out of these people, who needs to be at your meeting? Category 1 obviously needs to be in any meeting relevant to the objective. Category 2 will usually get an invite but should only have this situationally. Can you send a summary email to them to convey the same message? Category 3 is tricky, as these tend to involve higher-ups who prefer a more hands-on approach. I’ve seen too many senior level management members drawing pictures of cats during meetings that don’t really matter to their department. Category 4 can almost always be excluded. If there’s something they need to know, they clearly fall into a different category.

How much time do we really need?

This one can be difficult. It helps to have an agenda for your meetings to help manage this. But we’ve all been in meetings where things seem to get away from us and now we’re an hour and a half past when the meeting is supposed to end and everyone is antsy, hungry and bored. It’s important to try to stick with your allotted time once you’ve set it and then set up a follow up if that’s an option.

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