This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.
In the United States, 55 million meetings happen every day. Managers have an average of 12 meetings per week, while individual contributors have eight per week. The average employee spends more than three hours per week in meetings. According to the “State of Meetings Report” published in 2022 by meeting scheduling provider Doodle, this adds up to $37 billion lost by unproductive meetings every year.
How Good Meetings Go Bad
Bad meetings often happen when there is a lack of a clear goal. Without a clear understanding of what the meeting is trying to achieve, it can quickly become unproductive and a waste of time. Therefore, before scheduling a meeting, it is important to ask if it is truly necessary and if collaboration is needed to achieve the desired outcome.
A clear agenda that lays out the process for the meeting is crucial for success. The wrong people may also be in attendance, and the size of the group can affect the effectiveness of the meeting.
Lastly, a lack of active facilitation and unclear direction after the meeting can lead to confusion and a lack of follow-through on action items.
6 Ways to Create Better Meetings
As leaders, time is our most valuable resource, and when we gather thoughtfully and with purpose, we are good stewards of our own time as well as those who attend the meetings we lead. Here are five best practices to make the most of your meetings:
1. Know the meeting’s purpose and goals. What are the desired outcomes of the meeting? You should be able to easily answer that question before a meeting is scheduled. Remember the cost of the meeting as well; only invite those necessary for the meeting to accomplish its purpose.
2. Schedule the best type of meeting for everyone. When scheduling a meeting, think through how long it will be, and whether it will be in- person, virtual or hybrid. Use tools like FindTime to gain consensus from attendees when planning meeting times. Reserve meeting space for in-person and hybrid meetings as early as possible.
3. Create an agenda. The agenda should show attendees the purpose of the meeting, and it should be shared as early as possible. As the host of the meeting, be prepared for the discussion by readying notes ahead of time.
4. Be first. When it is meeting time, join early to greet each attendee. I also like to ask a check-in question which helps build relationships and team culture. It also helps the conversation flow and engages participants in the topic. Cover quick items at the beginning of the meeting before moving on to key topics which will make up the bulk of the meeting.
5. Take notes. I take notes at every meeting. A few key parts of my note-taking process are to note who is speaking, plug in any links to websites mentioned during the call, ask questions if something needs to be clarified, and be sure to have the note reader in mind. After the meeting, share notes/recordings, schedule additional meetings, and follow up with attendees.
6. Keep it as enjoyable as possible. I believe in the Japanese expression ichigo ichie, translated as ‘treasure the moment is important.’ Have fun, and don't make the meeting transactional; instead, encourage storytelling, lead with curiosity instead of judgment, and develop a culture.
If you are interested in digging deeper into this topic, I recommend “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters,” by Priya Parker; “Rituals for Virtual Meetings: Creative Ways to Engage People and Strengthen Relationships,” by Kursat Ozenc PH.D. and Glenn Fajardo; and “The Art of Facilitation,” by Dale Hunter with Stephen Thorpe, Hamish Brown and Anne Bailey.
James Gallagher is Director of Integrator Services for PSA Security Network and EDGE. Request more info about PSA at www.securityinfowatch.com/10214742.