71% of Meetings are Unproductive + Inefficient — Here is the One Key Way to Approach Meetings Differently and Increase Output
Meetings are the foundation of how startups run. Going from call to call, talking strategy, operations, execution, etc. The big question is, how much of that time is spent in productive thinking and ideating?
I recall during my early days at Help LLC, we discussed meeting strategy and optimization because we believed in getting things done — it was our mission statement. The process of getting things done wasn’t easy, it took a lot of focus and best practices to ensure that we were maximizing meeting output and leaving with a better result and more direction on the future of the company.
I’m all about efficiency so here’s what I’m going to discuss today.
- Developing a Productive Agenda
Developing a Productive Agenda
I’ve always enjoyed meetings. Not because I’m this super extrovert that just loves meeting people but I’ve enjoyed them because my agenda’s are designed for output.
The first step in creating an agenda is identifying intentions for calls. At Help, we have monthly meetings which are check-in calls so the intention for those meetings is simply for everyone to be in update mode and tell everyone in the company what they’ve been working on. Whereas other times we will have weekly meetings on Monday and those are department specific. The social media team will meet every Monday and ideate different strategies for execution on a specific social media post or a video and that intention will be written in the agenda.
Why are intentions important? — Everyone who is in attendance at the meeting should understand why they are there. There should never be a scenario in your company where members of the team simply show up because it’s on their calendar. They really have to understand the purpose of them being there and how much value they will gain from the meeting.
Hardboxing Times for Talking Points
The second part of developing a productive agenda is setting times for every item on the list. Without time the agenda is too ambiguous and while it might seem structured, it’s probably not. If the meeting time is 60 minutes and there are 5 items to complete prior to the end of the meeting, there shouldn’t be a scenario where the entire session is spent on one item of the agenda. By breaking things up by timebox, it allows you to stay proactive in meetings and continue keeping the meeting flowing as well. At Help, we implement the strategy of sticking to the times we set since it’s important to stay structured and never get stagnant in thought or topic.
Developing 5 Minute Buffers for Team Check-Ins
The third aspect of developing a productive agenda is having a 5 minute buffer at the beginning and end of every meeting. Why? — It’s important to leave that time for check-ins and check-outs. Everyone who is attending the meeting is coming from a different task + headspace so it’s important that the first 5 minutes are set acclimating everyone into meeting mode. I recommend going beyond the how’s it going question and focusing more on mental and physical check-ins. Actually understand what the people around you are thinking, this will help you develop company culture faster + will also develop better relationships between co-workers since this process is sometimes vulnerable. The 5 minute check-out time is left as a buffer for action items/deliverables and what success looks like for the next meeting. At Help, we like to spend this time in a quick roundtable discussion, asking people if they have anything to add + see if there is feedback on how the meeting is run/what the company is doing. The intention behind the feedback time is the fact that the fast feedback loops allow the company to iterate at a faster rate and adapt to what the employees want.
Launch a Quantitative Show + Tell to Focus on Growth
The fourth aspect of developing a productive agenda is quantitative show and tell. Numbers drive business. From growth to impressions we care about these numbers a lot and a focal part of startups is being able to drive consistent results with numbers. At every social media meeting, we always give an update on weekly number progress and it serves as an opportunity to measure growth and discuss KPI’s and goals for the following week. The number chats serve as a great way to hear the quantitative impact and continue working for the next week’s goal.
- Set intentions at your meetings + understand the why behind meeting
- Set times for every item on your agenda list and stick to those times to keep meetings structured
- Develop a productive agenda with 5 minute buffers
- Launch a quantitative show and tell to focus on growth and reach every week
Help LLC practices these four tips to developing a productive agenda and it’s important to us that we run meetings well + effectively so we can generate startup success. As you move into your next meeting we encourage you to practice more of these and begin being more intentional about your meetings.
P.S: A meeting doesn’t need to happen for everything. Small tasks or questions you can email don’t need a conference call. Be deliberate with meeting times.