Meaningful Conversations: 8 Productivity Hacks To Drive Better Meetings
Team meetings, company-wide meetings, one-on-ones, stand-ups, sprints, retrospectives, workshops, phone calls, teleconferences, coffee catch-ups.... are you exhausted yet? Jumping from one conversation or meeting to the next can be overwhelming and mentally draining! And you haven't even started the growing list of follow-ups or actions!
Here are some hacks to bring into your meeting so you can have more meaningful conversations and get back some of your precious time :)
8 Productivity Meeting hacks for meaningful conversations
- Use Time limits
Research has shown the most effective meetings are no more than 45 minutes in length. However, many a time, conversations get hijacked or turned around and you're lost in a sea of idle chatter for hours. Our Notiv team surveyed the general population and found that most people spent at least 9 hours in meeting per week! Additionally, a Harvard Business Review article claims some executives spend up to 23 hours per week in a meeting. That's a lot of time to waste.
- Always set an agenda before the meeting
All your agenda needs to focus on is how long your meeting will be and what topics it will cover. Then all you have to do is stick to it! While you can allow people to add topics or modify the time limit so each person has a voice, it is important to also curate the conversation. For example, points that are not actionable need not be included in the agenda! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- The Parking Lot Method
This productivity method ensures your meeting does not go off topic, while assuring participants that their points of discussion will be addressed. Effective use of the parking lot method means that topics not relating to the point being discussed are identified, recorded, and then discussed after agenda topics have been closed (if time remains). It's best to have someone in charge of keeping the parking lot list, so if time runs out these items can be discussed at the most ideal time.
- Stand up for your time
Many meeting rooms have lush, cushy chairs, coffee, bagels and when you throw in laptops, it's easy for people to get too comfortable. Having standing meetings can be the best way to make sure people focus on the topic at hand and end the meeting on time. It also stops people from doing unrelated things during a meeting. The result is a focused and attentive team!
- Freedom of speech
We're not talking about saying whatever you want, but considering opposing opinions can lead to more productive conversations. This balance of thoughts can clear up miscommunications, misunderstandings and lead to better long-term outcomes. That said, you need to manage the more vocal people in the room and make sure everyone has their speaking time respected. After all, you're having a conversation and not a lecture!
- Set a weird time for your meeting
No, we are not advocating meeting at 2 am. Instead of setting a meeting for 1030, set it for 1006! Believe it or not, but having a seemingly random start time increases the chance of everyone being on time. That way you're not wasting time waiting on people and you can start the meeting, dead on time!
Try as you might, when you have a long meeting, even if it's one on one, there are going to be points you forget or miss. Therefore, it's always a good meeting hack to factor in time on the agenda for a debrief. Run through the important decisions made and the action items each member will need to act on.
- Take effective notes
Note taking is one of the most crucial aspects of a meeting. It allows you to recap important points, promotes accountability and can keep you on track. However, it is important to take smart notes. To find out how to take smart notes that can help your team effectively take action, here is a guide I've created for you!
Don't worry if you're not ready to get Notiv in your meetings - although I assure you, with Notiv, you'll be able to have more meaningful conversations.
If you're part of a team, perhaps it's time to look at ways to improve how you meet! Because, let's face it. When you meet better, you can drive better client outcomes.