When I sit in a meeting, I keep asking myself why? Why are we here? How does this help us achieve great things? Sometimes I can justify it and see the need, mostly I feel like I am wasting my life.

Here are four questions. Answer them honestly and you will reduce the number of meetings you have and improve the effectiveness of the ones you schedule.
Why are we having this meeting?
Will this help us win?
What is the best process and frequency?
Did we get the outcome we wanted?
1. Why are we having this meeting?
There are some very good reasons for holding meetings, to share information, give direction, solve problems, improve teamwork, the list is long. Unfortunately if you were to ask the people attending the same meeting, why the meeting is being held, more often than not they are likely to either give you different answers or explain that there are many reasons not just one. Both are a recipe for failure.
You absolutely need to know the outcome. The ‘why’ question is about the actual result expected from the meeting.

Challenge
Answer this question, “what is the #1 reason for this meeting?” If you can’t get down to one single outcome…try again…because the focus will improve everything.

2. Will this help us win?

This is THE question. This is literally a GO/NO GO question. If you can’t put your hand on your heart and honestly say that this meeting is going to help us achieve team goals, then you seriously have to question the need to hold it. If the reason for the meeting has no real relevance to your objective, it is not necessary, it is wasting time and resources, and probably sapping energy levels as well.

Challenge
When someone calls a meeting ask the first two questions:
Why are we having this meeting?
Will this help us win?
Their answers will tell you pretty quickly whether the meeting is necessary. Have the courage to cancel if the answers don’t stack up, it’s liberating.

 

3. What is the best process and frequency?
This is probably the toughest question to answer first off because invariably it takes time and work to get right. It encompasses finding the best process, the right agenda and the right frequency or cadence for the meeting.

Ultimately the way in which you conduct the meeting has to be designed around the outcome. It should be simple and effective. Key questions to ask are:

How long do we need?
Who attends?
Is it a structured meeting or unstructured? (Innovation and brainstorming meetings are sometimes better with less structure)
What’s the Agenda?
How often do we need to have this meeting? (Cadence)
The Challenge

Be prepared to work on this. It is not something you can always get right first up. Hence our last question.

4. Did we get the outcome we wanted?

If at the end of the meeting you come up short, or feel like the meeting itself has not achieved the outcome you expected don’t stress. If you have answered questions 1 and 2 honestly and correctly, it is just the meeting process that needs adjusting.

Challenge:
Take 5 minutes at the end of the meeting to get feedback from the team on 1 question:

How could we improve this meeting?
It might take three or four meetings but eventually you will have a meeting that is extremely effective and delivering the precise outcome you want.

All the best,
Martin West