“This could have been an email.”
It’s the worst criticism someone can get after a meeting. In any office, but especially a smaller one like The Moak Group, every team member is juggling several projects at once. A meeting that wastes time can both annoy coworkers and take attention away from clients. However, one that is succinct, helpful, and enjoyable can energize everyone’s day.
Here at TMG, we have two all-staff meetings per week. On Monday mornings, we meet in the conference room to gather and prepare ourselves for the week. On Fridays, we hold a less formal recap, a “Weekly Roundup”. These two short meetings are important bookends for our team. We use Monday to set expectations/goals while letting the team know what extra help may be necessary. Fridays are the perfect time to check in with those goals and think about what we can do better next week. However, these two meetings are far from the only ones scheduled during the week. Whenever we gather, we use a few guiding principles that keep any meeting, whether it’s two people or the whole team, productive and on track.
Start on Time:
This tip is obvious, but very rarely followed. If your team has blocked off 30 minutes for a meeting, and you have 30 minutes worth of information to go over, you can’t waste five minutes. When coworkers get together, it’s easy to fall into idle or personal conversation. However, those five wasted minutes, if used correctly, could result in a great idea.
Don’t Endlessly Reschedule the Meeting:
Conflicts come up. Projects materialize. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to postpone a meeting, however simply feeling busy is not one of them. It may be easy and satisfying to just press “propose new time” on Outlook, but on the other end of that email is a team member who pushed another meeting or phone call to make room for yours. Unless there is a legitimate reason to postpone a meeting, stick to the original time. Your coworkers will thank you, and you won’t have the meeting dangling over your head for another few hours.
Put Away Laptops and Phones:
The Moak Group is a heavily digital firm that does a lot of tech- heavy design work. Obviously, if they are truly necessary for the meeting, this piece of advice does not apply. However, more often than not, there’s no added benefit to having electronics in a meeting room unless you are presenting something. If you’re running the meeting, a piece of paper with your agenda or talking points on it will be far less distracting than a laptop that keeps reminding you how many unread emails you have. If you’re participating in the meeting, take notes on a notepad. No matter how hard we fight it, people get distracted. If you’re not actively involved enough in a conversation to warrant scrolling through your emails, you shouldn’t be at the meeting in the first place.
Be Mindful of Who You’re Inviting:
If Tim from the communications team is necessary for 1/10th of your agenda, he shouldn’t have to sit through the full 30-minute sales meeting. You may think it’s clear that he can leave once he is no longer necessary, but Tim may not feel comfortable leaving mid-meeting. Don’t waste Tim’s time, he’s very busy.
Every meeting should create action items, so make sure to follow up. Within 24 hours of the meeting’s end, send a recap of the discussion and what is expected from each participant moving forward or make sure that action items are input into your team’s project management tool. Then, after a few days, reflect and make sure you and everyone else on the team have completed their tasks. Great ideas are often lost when no one follows through with them.
Meetings are an important part of every company, but too often they are dreaded or viewed as wastes of time. Make sure that every meeting you run, whether in person, video conference, or phone call, is enjoyable, productive, and could not have been an email.
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