Dos and Don’ts for Maximized Meeting Value

Posted by Lauren Schoener-Gaynor on July 28, 2021 10:07:38 PM

The following was compiled and written by Leslie Teris, JD, CAE; Samantha Whitfield, MCP; Kristin Burke, CMP; and Brent Schwartz

Regular touchpoints and meetings are important to the relationships we build internally with our TMG colleagues and externally with our client partners. With more than a year of virtual collaboration tools at our fingertips, would you be surprised to learn that 11 million meetings are held each day? TMG’s Account Executives recently discussed these touchpoints and other findings summarized in Shocking Meeting Statistics In 2020 That Will Take You By Surprise. As we all try to maximize the value of our meetings, we’re sharing a few of the best practices that have made our virtual collaboration successful. 

 What we do… 

  • Set intentions for the meeting. This doesn’t always mean a dense agenda. The person calling a meeting should be able to clearly state the purpose of the meeting and outline what the participants can expect during that time.  
    • Some meetings are work sessions, where the goal is to accomplish certain tasks together 
    • Some meetings focus on the strategic discussion where the outcome might be identifying something intangible 
    • Others are called because a decision needs to be made on a particular item  

 No matter the type, be clear on the goal.  

  • Capture action items. This is an effective tactic whether you are meeting one-on-one with a colleague, running a large board meeting, and everything in between. Keep track of action items during the meeting by pausing to ask questions if the specifics (what, who, or when) of an action item isn’t clear, and review action items at the close of the meeting. Take it to the next level by developing a system for tracking action items like recording progress between meetings and sharing the overall tracking at the start of the next meeting. 
  • Use visual aids. Here is where the virtual platforms we are all using in 2021 come in very handy, with screen sharing as a standard feature. Even when all participants have prepared in advance, it can be helpful to focus the conversation by keeping key questions or information front and center. If the purpose of the meeting is to work collaboratively, seeing changes to a document or design in real-time can enhance the discussion. 

 What we don’t do… 

  • Rehash old business. Unless there is a change in circumstances or other pressing reason to reconsider something that has previously been discussed and decided, let the decisions stand. Let your agenda serve as a tool to prevent old business from creeping back into the discussion.

  • Automatically schedule your meetings for an hour. If you schedule an hour, you will surely find ways to fill that time. Not to mention, scheduling a full hour makes it more likely that you will find yourself scheduled for back-to-back meetings. Calendar applications allow you to set a default length for meetings. Try setting your default to 45 minutes and determining from there whether you will need more or less time to accomplish the purpose of the meeting. 
  • Hold meetings you should have canceled – or cancel meetings at the last minute. While these may seem like opposite suggestions, they both come down to respect for the time you have asked meeting participants to spend preparing for and attending the meeting. If your colleagues are not prepared with the tools and information needed to accomplish the purpose of the meeting, it may be more effective to cancel or reschedule for a time when everyone is prepared. Likewise, if everyone is prepared but a conflict has come up for you as the chair of the meeting, consider whether rescheduling might be more disruptive to the desired outcome than allowing the meeting to go forward with another participant chairing. For standing meetings, a pattern of last-minute cancellation can cause your colleagues to decrease the effort they put into the preparation. 

As you are thinking about ways to derive the most value from meetings, there is one meeting you might want to add to your calendar. Set a meeting with yourself! Keeping up with these best practices takes time and intention. Set that time aside as often as you need it to review your calendar, consider the time you need to block to prepare for, follow up from meetings, and look for efficiencies. Do you have multiple meetings with the same person or group of people in the coming week? These could be consolidated into one, long meeting. Give yourself time to communicate with those you have invited to a meeting, and to reach out to those who have invited you if you have questions about the pre-reads or the purpose of the meeting. 

Stayed tuned for next week’s “Meeting Effectiveness Q&A” blog. 

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