You want your team meetings to be efficient.
Yet, implementing rigorous strategies seems overwhelming. You’d like a ‘quick fix’ (for more advice on strategizing productive meetings, see our tips on how to plan a meeting and how to manage a meeting).
What can you do to make your next meeting as productive and useful as possible? Here, we’ve listed five actionable meeting hacks that are easy to implement and that you can use right away at your next weekly meeting.
Ask your team to stand up
What do your meetings look like?
Do you book a conference room and have your team sit through the entire meeting?
Yeah, thought as much.
But, here’s something that might be news to you:
According to a study by Washington University, standing up during meetings makes people less likely to feel defensive and increases excitement around creative group processes. As a result, meetings are more creative and don’t take as much time as meetings where participants sit down.
Plus, stand-up meetings have a clear health benefit. Sitting down the whole day can have unpleasant health effects, such as heart diseases, colon cancer, diabetes, shoulder and neck pain and a foggy brain. By standing up, you use your muscles and your blood flows faster. This, again, helps your body prevent all the side effects that come from prolonged sitting.
In other words, stand-up meetings have several advantages to traditional sit-down meetings. But how do you hold a successful stand-up meeting?
- Keep the meeting short. Sure enough, people are more uncomfortable standing up than they would be if they were sitting down. In that sense, they are inclined to keep the meeting short and you don’t have to manage the meeting length. But, don’t schedule more meeting time than is absolutely necessary.
- Make sure you have a good way of taking notes (after all, taking notes can be a bit more demanding when you’re standing up compared to when you’re sitting down).
- Take all your team members into consideration. Is someone not as young and healthy as the rest of the group, such as an older employee with a heart condition? Or is someone a bit shorter, which might make this employee feel like he or she isn’t heard or seen during the meeting?
Use a timer to create a sense of urgency
Urgency is a powerful motivator.
That’s why your meetings should always be as short as possible. 15 to 30 minutes is the recommended length. In terms of keeping your meeting productive, a big no-no is to schedule 60 minutes or (even worse) to leave the end time open.
The reason is simple:
As humans, we live around constraints. This is called the psychology of limitations. Constraints get us to think more creatively, as we have to figure out solutions to move past those limitations.
Subsequently, by limiting the meeting time, meeting participants are forced to come up with solutions faster. This can foster creativity and outside-the-box thinking.
It makes sense to keep your meeting short. But, we’ve all been there; a meeting stretches on and on because you can’t decide on a certain question, someone brought up a topic that wasn’t mentioned in the agenda, and so forth.
So how do you ensure that you keep your self-imposed time limit?
Use an egg timer or an alarm clock that goes off when your time is up. That’s when the meeting stops – no exceptions. Over time, you and your team will learn to adapt to this time limit.
To make this hack a success, make sure that the meeting ends when the time is up.
Leave phones and laptops at the door
If there’s anything that derails a meeting and makes it unproductive, it’s co-workers who check their emails and other messages once every ten seconds.
We’ve said it before, but it’s good to repeat this point:
Unproductive meetings are a major time waster at the workplace. For example, workers report that they lose 31 hours every month thanks to unproductive meetings. That’s almost four full work days! At the same time, 73% say that they do other work during meetings.
So, what can you do to stop team members from using valuable meeting time to check their inboxes?
This hack is pretty straightforward:
Ask your co-workers to leave their phones and laptops outside of the meeting room. Put them in a designated basket and use sticky notes to make it fast and easy for team members to find their devices after the meeting.
Obviously, if you’re the meeting manager, you’ll want to set an example by being the first one to drop your phone in the basket.
Shave off 5 minutes
We’ve established that you should keep your meeting short and even use an egg timer to maximize efficiency.
But, here’s a meeting hack that’ll make your meeting even more focused.
Namely, shave off five minutes of the meeting time.
If you have a meeting that’s scheduled for 30 minutes, aim for 25. If you’re going for 15 minutes, try to make it in 10 minutes.
With less time at your disposal, you and the rest of the meeting participants will be extremely focused on getting through the agenda.
In the end, you have a fruitful meeting and you don’t go overtime.
Almost all organizations have a default meeting mode:
To meet in person.
Of course, remote workplaces can seldom meet up at the office. Instead, team members are asked to join a live Skype meeting.
But is this really necessary?
Think about it:
The reason you and your team hold meetings is so that you can communicate with one another.
Sometimes, meetings are way more effective than, say, e-mailing back and forth or running between offices to meet one-on-one.
But thanks to new forms of communication, meeting up for an in-person or Skype meeting might no longer be the best substitute for other forms of communication in all situations.
Today, we have tools like Slack to help us communicate faster and more flexibly than over the phone, with e-mail or face to face.
With an instant messaging tool, you can quickly go over your agenda items in writing, without having to schedule a meeting room and without having to physically meet up somewhere. In the end, this saves you time, effort and money.
This meeting form has two specific advantages:
First and foremost, people might be clearer and get their point through more easily in writing than when speaking up during a meeting. Simply put, when we write, we have a bit more time to think through what we want to say in contrast to speaking in front of a group of people.
Second, having your meeting in writing helps you when you compile a summary of the meeting and follow up on action items from the meeting. You have it all black on white, which might make it easier to keep things clear and understandable.
Plus, going mobile has the advantage of being more cost-effective than a traditional in-person meeting. You save time on things like planning the meeting and taking the time to get to the meeting space or setting up Skype.
An additional bonus is that by communicating in this way, you might engage introverts more effectively. After all, it’s less intimidating to meet online and subsequently, introverts might feel more confident in a more anonymous setting.
But what are the steps you need to take to set up a meeting on Slack?
Schedule 10-15 minutes and create an agenda (you can use Minute to keep all things mobile!). Then, you simply meet up on Slack or another instant messaging platform. Just make sure that you focus only on your agenda items and keep the time you’ve scheduled so that you don’t end up using time to chit chat about unrelated things.
Conclusion: Implement these 5 hacks at your next meeting
There you have it:
Five meeting hacks you can use immediately.
These hacks are tailored to help you and your team work more efficiently. By using them now, you’ll save time and brainpower at your next meeting.
But feel like you still don’t know where to start?
No worries! Start with one hack and then, when you have that one working for you, move on to the next. Ultimately, you’ll achieve your goal of working better and smarter.
Here at Minute, we’re always looking for fresh meeting tips and tricks. That’s why I’d love to know:
What’s your favorite meeting hack?
Let me know in the comments below!