How Do You Have Meetings That Matter?

A vector illustration of a business people in a meeting in the office

We’ve all been there before. Nobody likes going to meetings and wasting their time. It’s like this:

You go to the meeting. There's small talk, people are joking around, and people are wasting your precious time. This happens when you have a lot of people in the room together.

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You can count up the dollars you’re wasting when you have five or more people in a meeting. That's a lot of precious money. That's a lot of precious time is a lot of pressures, brainpower that's wasted.

So how do you run your meetings? Well, what do you do? Well, let me give you some tips.


The first thing is always have an agenda.


Always have a thought process going into the meeting of what you want to accomplish because, if you go into the meeting blind, and it's like, well, what are we doing here? Guess what's going to happen? It's going to be a waste for everybody.

So that that doesn't work. You realize you need an agenda, make sure you only invite people that are going to add value in the meeting.

Here’s an example of what you don’t want. Have you ever been in a meeting where there are 10 or 15 people in the room, and there may be two or three people that are adding all the value in the meeting?

I have and that drives you insane. That was like Micrel’s operations meeting. Except, no one added value in the meeting. It was just a complete waste of time.

What are the other eight or nine people doing in the room? They shouldn't be there.


Only invite people that need to be in the meeting that are going to add value.


That's important because you just don't have time to waste. So have an agenda, have the right people in the room and then get on with it.

As the CEO, people love being in meetings with you. But you know what? You have to look at them ask people to leave that don’t belong in the meeting.

I know it’s awkward, but you can gently say, “You know what? You're not supposed to be here. There are better things that you can do with your time. So I'd appreciate it if you left the meeting.”

Now, hopefully you do that before and you can do it in a more gentle way than I just did, but you don't want these people in the meetings. So only have people come to meetings who are going to contribute to the meetings.


Go from point to point to point and get done with the meeting.


And if you have an hour allotted for the meeting, and you get done in 25 minutes, great. Then tell everybody, “You know what? We finished early today. Get on with your work. I'll see you later.”

That's how you have good productive meetings, and get done quickly, and keep people excited about going to the meetings.


Who, will do what, by when?


This is the most important thing. If you only remember one thing about setting up meetings and having effective meetings, this is it. Who will do what by when?

In other words, when you end a meeting, there are actions to the meeting. Who will do what by when.

Who? And that's one person. So when you assign an action item and it's Jim or Jane or Bob or whoever it is, it's only Jim, it's not Jim and Jane or Jim and Bob is only Jim.

And do what. You want to be very specific. In other words, Jim is going to do this specific thing done. Make sure there is no ambiguity regarding the expected result.

By when? That's the last piece. When are you going to get that done, Jim? Have a specific date for every action. Okay.


If you can get things done outside of the meeting and it's partially a status meeting, get them done before the meeting.


And encourage your team to get things done before the meeting too because there's nothing worse than people waiting for the meeting to solve problems.

So that's part of how you teach is you create a culture where people understand that yes, they can provide status in the meeting, but get done everything they can out of the meeting. Don't wait for the meeting.


Finally, follow up religiously.


If somebody's going to be late with a task, get in the habit of teaching people that the culture in your company is if you're late, come to me and tell me you're going to be late rather than waiting.

If you follow these five steps, you'll have much better meetings. You'll have a better culture in a much more effective company.


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