If the average leader were to take every meeting on their calendar and cut the time in half, they would free up more than three hours per week. In a company with 100 people, that’s close to 8 weeks of time regained for deeper, more productive work.

So, how do we get there?

Geraldine Ree-experienced SVP, mentor, facilitator, and speaker

Guest post by Geraldine Ree. Bio and website below.

We’ve learned that online meetings are shorter for a variety of reasons including less chitchat, only one voice speaking at a time, and greater self-awareness due to the mirror effect.

What we don’t realize is that since the pandemic, we’re having more meetings with more attendees. According to the Economic Study of Work, on average, we’re attending one additional meeting per day with two more attendees.

We need to fight the tide of the “FYI” meetings by being even more intentional.

I refer to the concept of holding intentional meetings as “meeting forward.” When we meet forward, we decrease meeting time while increasing results. Here’s how:

  1. Call a spade a spade. Is it a meeting or a speech? A meeting is a collaboration of ideas. The purpose of a meeting is to distill those ideas, make a decision, and take action. We often attend “meetings” to listen to a single voice from above for an extended portion of time. Most of the action is then moved outside the meeting, which likely requires yet another meeting. Instead, consider asking for a short video (no longer than five minutes) on key insights from the 30,000-foot view. If you’re a CEO or frequent speaker, this could save you hours by saying it once and using it often.
  2. Lean into action. Create an agenda that answers the question, “Where to from here?” Start by recapping the current state. Then, bring forward issues and roadblocks as well as opportunities that will move the group forward. End the meeting with a “Required Actions” list that includes action owners and due dates.
  3. Put “meeting leak” to a stop. The minute someone says, “I’ll look into that,” another meeting is created. Step out, look into it, and report back, or move forward with the group’s best estimate of the missing information.
  4. Brainstorm out and facilitate in. Now is the time to encourage all input. Every voice matters, but not everyone speaks up. If they do speak up, they are often influenced by the group. Ask people to send ideas on a topic in advance. Meeting time can then be spent deliberating many good ideas. In fact, facilitating the best ideas leads to even better ideas. The answer is always in the room.
  5. Invite celebrations, breathing time, and socialization. We still need and crave love, and so the goal is to cut out unproductive time, not social time. The difference is that we need to be more intentional about the social aspect within an action-oriented agenda. Let people know when it’s time to find their pet, take a break, or raise their glass. We could all use a good “cheers” to that!

Want to take your virtual meetings to the next level? I can help! Reach out for a strategy call, or to learn more, please visit me on my website.

Main photo by Zahir Namane on Unsplash.