You’ve been there before…
Yup, you’ve sat through a meeting without a purpose.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
But here’s the thing:
There’s a better way.
Read on to learn the 6 reasons to hold a meeting… So that you can finally get rid of unproductive meetings.
Why are unproductive meetings such a huge problem?
You might be wondering:
Why are unproductive meetings such a problem?
Sure, they’re annoying… But aren’t they a price you pay for better teamwork?
Nope. In fact, studies show that dysfunctional meetings are associated with lower market shares, innovation, and employee stability.
So how do you avoid all the negative consequences of unproductive meetings?
Only hold purposeful meetings.
The difference between purposeful and productive meetings is this:
If you run productive meetings, you make sure they run smoothly. So, there’s an agenda, a goal, follow-ups…
But if you run productive meetings without thinking more about the purpose, they end up being unproductive.
That’s where meeting purpose comes in.
Meaning, you need to be extremely selective with the meetings you choose to run.
Here below, we look at 6 reasons for a meeting.
And you’re in good company:
Productivity expert David Allen (author of “Getting Things Done”) recommends some of these principles as reasons for holding a meeting.
Ready to learn more? Let’s dive right in.
1. Meetings to share information
Meetings to share information.
Here’s the thing:
Meetings are a communication tool. So sharing information is a crucial part of meetings.
Not to mention teamwork in general.
These meetings can be held both to share and to receive information.
One reason to hold a meeting could be to share a company update.
Or to get information from co-workers who work on a particular project.
While these are reasons to hold meetings, they don’t hold in all situations.
When should information be shared in meetings?
These days, information-sharing can be automated.
Besides, meetings aren’t always the best place for it.
That’s because today, there are different tools that tend to be more effective.
Email, slack, Trello… You name it.
But how do you know WHEN information-sharing is a reason to hold a meeting?
Let’s look at two scenarios:
First, your company is going through some major changes. A department is being shut down.
Second, your company is redecorating parts of its office space.
When should you hold a meeting to share this information?
In the first case, absolutely.
In the second case, maybe… or maybe not.
Will people have a lot of questions? Do they need to talk it over with their co-workers? Is this easier to manage in a meeting?
If the answer is yes, a meeting is probably needed.
If it’s no, share the information through a different communication tool.
2. Meetings to make decisions
Meetings have an important function.
They’re key for many decisions.
And that’s why decision-making is a reason to hold meetings.
Many meetings are labeled as “decision-making meetings”. Unfortunately, these meetings often end up being something completely different.
So… How do you prevent that from happening?
How to make sure your meeting focuses on decisions
One of the main reasons for unproductive meetings?
People come late or unprepared.
That’s exactly why decision-making meetings end up being more about discussing other things than the decision itself.
Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening.
Send out a detailed agenda before the meeting. If needed, include information about the decision so that people can prepare in advance.
The idea is that your meeting time won’t be wasted on discussions about everything around the meeting.
Instead, you’ll focus on making the decision.
Plus, specify a few potential decisions before the meeting.
“During the meeting, we will discuss decision A, B, and C and choose the one solution we want to pursue.”
You might be thinking:
“But… sometimes we HAVE to meet to discuss our options.”
True. And sometimes that is a valid reason for holding a meeting.
That’s what we’ll look at next.
3. Meetings to develop options
Sometimes you need to discuss on a higher level.
You know, when you have a problem to solve and you’re not entirely sure how to approach it.
That’s why one reason for meetings is to sit down and develop options.
Here, the key is to get everyone’s perspective and to brainstorm different approaches, insights, and solutions.
How do you ensure this meeting stays on track?
After all, it’s a bit more creative than most other meetings. So it’s easy to get derailed.
You know, someone hijacks the meeting. Or the meeting focuses on irrelevant topics.
Either way, the meeting takes up way too much time and energy… And doesn’t achieve its goal.
Want to avoid that from happening?
Here’s what you need to do:
How to develop options productively
Here’s the deal:
Even creative meetings need structure.
In your agenda, specify the topic you’re going to discuss and ask people to think about their opinions and insights before the meeting.
Set a time limit for your meeting. And during the meeting, give every attendant a specific amount of time to speak.
This way, people come prepared and there’s a deadline for coming up with options.
You don’t get sucked into an unproductive back-and-forth discussion.
That’s it- next up:
4. Meetings to share feedback
The fourth reason to hold a meeting is to share feedback.
This meeting might be held at the end of a project.
Or on a regular basis to check up on performance and progress.
So, whenever there’s feedback that needs to be shared with several people and it’s better to do it face-to-face than to send out information as a shared document or by email.
How to run a successful feedback meeting
Feedback meetings have a specific purpose- to share feedback.
That’s why your meeting shouldn’t exceed more than 15 minutes.
The idea is to sit down, go through the feedback and maybe answer a few questions.
Now, moving on to team building meetings.
5. Meetings for team building
You know how it is:
Meetings are one of the best ways to bring team members together.
That’s why one of the reasons to hold a meeting is just that… Team building.
Strengthening the company culture and getting people to work towards the same goal.
The purpose could also be to increase employee happiness and satisfaction or creating a stronger organization.
But how do you ensure that your meeting serves its purpose?
Read on to learn how.
How to set up a team building meeting
One of the best ways to get your team to work together is to shake things up a bit.
If you run your team building meeting in the same place as other meetings, people will have a hard time getting out of their usual roles.
Instead, consider doing something different.
It doesn’t have to be anything too major. Maybe you meet up at the local coffee shop instead of the office.
Or use icebreakers. They can be a great way to help people relax and get to know each other on a deeper level.
Alternatively, you could set up your meeting during happy hour.
Over to our last meeting purpose… Brainstorming.
6. Meetings to brainstorm
These are meetings that are held to innovate.
But wait… Aren’t meetings for developing options just that- brainstorming?
Yes, they are. But their scope is narrower.
They focus on ONE decision.
Brainstorming meetings are broader. They’re all about coming up with new concepts and ideas.
How do you set up a structured and productive brainstorming meeting?
Ask meeting attendants to brainstorm before the meeting. During the meeting, they present their best ideas.
That way, you have a handful of ideas to discuss during the meeting.
Also, enforce a strict time limit for the meeting.
This makes it far less likely that the meeting ends up going down a rabbit hole or people focus on the wrong things.
Over to you!
That’s it- now you understand the 6 reasons to hold a meeting.
Use these in your own meetings to get rid off unproductive meetings.
Share your meeting purpose with meeting attendants.
Only then will everyone know what to expect from a meeting.
Now, over to you:
Are your meetings unproductive?
What’s the first step you’ll take to improve them?