4 small meeting changes that make a big difference.
To say Gary Vaynerchuk is “blunt” would be a bit of an understatement. The brash serial entrepreneur and investor is known for his concise, no-nonsense approach to business–and I was thrilled (yet unsurprised) to confirm that same approach extends to meetings.
On a recent LinkedIn post, Vaynerchuk had a controversial meeting take that immediately resonated with me and the way I’ve been running my business:
“Way too many of you ask me how I get so many things done… By having 15 minute meetings when everybody else is having an hour for the same productivity. Everybody in here has 1 hour meetings that are actually 7 minute meetings. You multiply that times 183 meetings a year, you can imagine what ends up happening with efficiency. I believe in 15-minute meetings to help improve efficiency.”
I completely agree with Gary and I’ve been saying it for years. Meetings are the single biggest time and cost drainers in most companies. And while the idea of converting an hour-long meeting to seven minutes might seem impossible, it’s not. In fact, you might even be able to eliminate it entirely with no loss in productivity–and it’s easier than you might think.
Over the years, my team and I have implemented a variety of techniques to help us and our clients to run more efficient meetings. Here are four of our best tips that you can apply today to achieve Gary Vee-level efficiency in your meetings.
1. Assign prework
Prework is any work that needs to be done or materials that need to be reviewed before the meeting–and it can be the difference between an efficient meeting and a waste of everyone’s time. Prework helps attendees to be better prepared, ready to contribute to discussions, and provide meaningful insights. But it’s only useful if it gets done.
For that reason, I recommend assigning prework in advance using a work management tool like Asana or ClickUp, which gives everyone a clear deadline and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. But this does, of course, beg the question… What type of prework should you be assigning?
2. Avoid “report outs”
The number one productivity killer in meetings is report outs, which is when people are reporting on projects or other updates. You know, that time when someone is talking about their work and everyone else’s eyes start to glaze over because it has nothing to do with them. There’s really no need for it, yet it happens in meetings all the time.
To save everyone’s time and sanity, I recommend doing any reporting asynchronously, in advance of the meeting. This is one form of prework that I’d suggest making mandatory. With video recording tools like Loom, attendees can share and view updates at their own pace, on their own time. That way, everyone can focus on what’s most relevant to them and the meeting can be used for collaboration.
This is by far the most impactful method if you’re looking to cut down the length of your meetings–I’ve even used it to eliminate some.
3. Use an agenda (in advance)
Meeting agendas are one of the most important components of an efficient meeting. At my company, we have a simple rule: No agenda? No meeting. This is because agendas keep everyone on track and ensure that the highest priority items are addressed quickly.
But there’s a catch. For the agenda to be effective, it needs to be shared in advance and used by all meeting participants. A well-implemented agenda means that every meeting will have a clear list of prioritized topics to discuss. And it means that everyone is forced to prepare their thoughts in advance, making the meeting more efficient.
I’ve been using fellow.app to plan and organize my meetings, which automatically creates an agenda for every meeting and allows all participants to list our talking points in –without having to create a document.
4. Assign a moderator
Just like agendas serve as roadmaps to your meetings, moderators serve as their guides. If you find yourself scheduling lots of meetings, consider assigning moderators to keep meetings on track, keep time, and ensure discussions stay focused.
We’ve all been in meetings that can quickly devolve into side conversations and introduce topics not in the agenda. Assigning a moderator ensures that order is maintained and that all attendees have a chance to speak. This is important in order to get everyone’s input on the discussion.
Remember that efficiency doesn’t come from dramatic changes–small improvements can yield major results over time! Converting all your hour-long meetings to 15 minutes might not be feasible at the moment. But if you focus on applying a few tweaks to shave even a few minutes off of every meeting you attend, you can achieve some major savings in the long run.
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