What's worse than sitting through a long meeting? A long meeting that doesn't get anything accomplished. Here at SproutLoud, we recently had a meeting about meetings. Although that may sound a bit redundant, it was incredibly productive - we put in place a few structural rules so our meetings could be more efficient and produce results.
Whenever someone needs to organize a meeting, they must establish three key details of that meeting up-front in the meeting invite.
(1) What type of meeting is it? An info-sharing meeting, a brainstorming meeting, or a decision making meeting. This establishes the purpose of the meeting and manages expectations from meeting participants on meeting take-aways.
(2) List an agenda. If a meeting organizer doesn't list an agenda so its participants can prepare or determine if its a meeting they should be at, then the organizer isn't respecting the meeting participants' time. An agenda also allows the content of the meeting to be structured in an efficient way to make the best use of everyone's time. i.e. You may only need your IT team at the start of a meeting...
(3) List a goal. What is the meeting supposed to accomplish?
Here are some more rules we put in place, in no particular order:
1.) Our meetings can never last longer than one hour. Unless we need a longer strategy session, we want people working on producing results rather than talking about them. If you think you need an hour, try the exercise of intentionally scheduling a meeting to run shorter.
2.) Be on time. Nothing is worse than someone showing up 5 minutes late and missing critical content - or worse, a room full of people waiting ten minutes for a few key people to join (potentially the organizer). Demand punctuality from your team.
3.) To accomplish #2, never end a meeting at the 30 or 60 minute mark - always end it five minutes early. Our schedules get stacked over the course of the day. If I have a meeting that runs from 3-4, and another one that starts at 4, right off the bat I am doomed to fail at #2 on this list. Now, my hour meetings end on the 55 minute mark. i.e. 3:55.
4.) Appoint a timekeeper. A timekeeper is responsible for keeping the meeting on track and reminding everyone that there is a hard cut-off to the end of the meeting.
5.) Determine what the action items are coming out of the meeting. Otherwise, you've just wasted all your time with no follow-up.
About the Author
Jared is the Chief Executive Officer of SproutLoud. Since 2006, he has been primarily responsible for strategic direction of the Company, as well as the oversight of SproutLoud's Partner ecosystem. Prior to SproutLoud, Jared worked in Thomas Weisel Partner’s internet and online advertising investment banking practice in San Francisco. He served as the lead analyst on a number of Corporate Finance and M&A deals including Newscorps’ buyout of Intermix Media (Myspace.com). Jared graduated with a B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Jared has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a member of the Young President's Organization (YPO). Jared has been honored as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurs by South Florida Business Journal and a Top 50 Entrepreneur by Business Leader Magazine. Jared lives in South Florida with his wife and two sons.More Content by Jared Shusterman