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team meetings: how to organize it without spending all your working time

Imagine that a 1-hour meeting with 10 people present costs 10 person-hours. And if instead of solving problems and making plans, the team is locked in a conference room or online room waiting for nothing serious, then those 10 person-hours are wasted.

Team meetings are an essential part of the work process. However, according to statistics, professionals spend 21% of their working time on meetings. But what's even worse is that almost a quarter of the meeting time is ineffective and empty, as respondents say.

That's why managers ask themselves: how to conduct an effective meeting? By effective, we mean not an obligatory duty but a source of information that is difficult to obtain on our own.

We'll tell you how we organize meetings at ICU, a communications agency.

11 hacks for effective meetings

Based on our experience, we have come up with 11 effective techniques that make meetings "full":

1. Moderator. Appoint a moderator, usually the leader, who will control timing and direct the meeting, so it doesn't turn into a "bazaar."

2. Regularity. Holding a meeting 1-2 times a week at a fixed time creates systematicity and discipline.

3. Convenient time for everyone. It's best not to occupy working hours and hold meetings at the beginning of the workday on Monday or at the end of the day on Friday.

4. Online format. Besides being fast and convenient, it also significantly increases turnout. This format is irreplaceable if there are remote employees.

5. Agenda. A pre-formed agenda with timing significantly reduces meeting time: Question #1 - 5 minutes, Question #2 - 10 minutes, and everyone understands what to expect.

6. Informational materials. Send all necessary materials 1 day or at least a couple of hours before the meeting to all participants. That way, you don't have to spend 10 minutes explaining the essence, and employees can prepare and form their own opinion.

7. No gadgets. A simple rule that helps you not get distracted and conduct half an hour to an hour as focused as possible.

8. Time for questions. Leave time for possible questions or discussions.

9. Facts, not accusations. When there is a problem, focus on its solution, discussing facts rather than assigning blame.

10. Praise. Acknowledge the victories and results of standout employees. This greatly inspires and motivates the team.

11. Summarize. Documenting all decisions, deadlines, and sequences helps to summarize the meeting.

Types of Meetings at ICU

We have developed a working scheme of 3 types of meetings:

  • — General basic meeting

Held at 10:00 on Monday, lasts 30 minutes, and all regular company employees attend.

  • — Management meeting

Planned for Friday at 17:00, lasts 1 hour, and involves 4 directors for strategy, social media marketing, branding design, and sales.

  • — "Flying" mini-meetings within departments

Conducted daily, take up 5 minutes, organized in the form of conference calls, report chats in Telegram with project participants.

What does each of these meetings give to participants? Let's consider further.

Week Foundation

  • — The manager reports on what he or she has done in the previous week
  • — Employees report their results
  • — Address the issues on the agenda
  • — Discuss problems and make decisions about them
  • — Set plans for the week and personal KPIs for employees
  • — Discuss general issues like corporate events and holidays

It is worth noting that the meeting is very focused thanks to another life hack: each employee has a plan for their presentation in the form of theses and knows the time allotted to them, as well as a notebook for recording decisions and their own tasks.

"Status" Managers' Meeting

  • — The status of projects is noted
  • — Important changes in the company's work or policies are discussed
  • — Opinions are exchanged on aspects that do not require the participation of all employees

The peculiarity of the meeting is that all reporting and informational materials are sent in advance and a small range of questions are discussed in order of priority, starting with the most complex question that requires more time.

Mini-meetings for mini-decisions

  • — Discussion of daily tasks
  • — Plans for the day
  • — Reporting, daily results

Usually held in chats in the form of voice or written messages and saves a lot of time.

Why don't our employees skip meetings?

30 minutes out of a 40-hour work week for employees and 1 hour for managers are spent in meetings in ICU. It's not very long, but it produces results.

For the manager:

  • — Contact with the team: see how enthusiastic a particular person is, note their state
  • — Cohesion: start the meeting with small talk, discuss the weekend or a movie you watched, share emotions. This gives a sense of community and reduces formality
  • — Team motivation: praise for good results inspires all employees.

For employees, this is a training:

  • — Structuring skills, as meetings require mandatory preparation
  • — Time management skills, punctuality
  • — Ability to identify important points
  • — Ability to ask questions as clearly as possible, clarify decisions
  • — Discipline: meetings are held at fixed times and days
  • — Respect: not using phones, not getting distracted
  • — Brainstorming: ask for help, exchange ideas

Meetings help everyone stay informed, see the transparency of the company's policies, adhere to the strategy, and feel their importance.

Vilfredo Pareto once noticed that 80% of the land in Italy is owned by 20% of the population. He studied this phenomenon in other areas and came up with the principle that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. ICU meetings fall into that 20% of work that produces 80% of results.

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