6 Secrets To Help You Run More Productive Meetings

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6 Secrets To Help You Run More Productive Meetings

Holding productive meetings requires you to balance organisational needs with employee needs. And while you may be under performance pressure to get updates, delegate tasks and engage your people, those people have needs too.

The most productive meetings are well planned, well controlled and outcomes-based. This week, we share six secrets to help you manage more productive meetings that engage your employees, create accountability and ensure your department, team or workforce stays focused.


Balancing Schedules, Deadlines And Employee Needs

For employees who work an eight-hour day or 40-hour week, deadlines are a very real and highly pressurised part of the job. When you set a meeting you are effectively taking valuable time away from a limited work schedule.

Sure, from a management point of view, having everyone around the table and discussing agenda items is essential. From an employee point of view, finishing that tender, making that commission or completing the pitch for new business is more important.

Showing your employees that you are considerate of their schedules, needs and behaviours is step one. A meeting at the end of the week may very well put more pressure on people by interfering with their task deadlines. WhenIsGood.net, a service that researches optimal times to do things, says that Tuesdays at 3pm is a good time to hold meetings. It is early enough in the week not to interfere with deadlines and, being later in the afternoon, allows people to get through their morning workload. If you’d like to handle this process even more diplomatically, take a vote and find out when you can work around everyone’s schedules.


Always Have An Agenda. Don’t Deviate From It

As we all know, discussions that are not part of a meeting agenda are major time-wasters. Another major time-waster in meetings is deviating from the agenda. One of the major advantages of using Cosapien to take your meeting minutes is when you schedule a meeting, you are prompted to pre-minute agenda items. This serves two purposes:

  1. Everyone arrives at the meeting knowing exactly what will be discussed and is adequately prepared to hold the discussions.
  2. Everyone at the meeting knows the boundaries of what may or may not be discussed and there is no scope to add items to the agenda.

And, to address the issue of time wastage, if you really want your meetings to run like clockwork, allocate a time frame for each of the agenda items so that you do not run over the allocated time.


Foster Accountability For Meeting Outcomes

Cosapien’s minute-taking format follows that adopted by Fortune 500 companies, in that each agenda item is assigned to an employee or responsible person. Rather than adopting the “we need to do this or that” mentality, Cosapien encourages the meeting chair to delegate the tasks that arise from agenda items to specific people, and then holds them accountable to it.

To foster meeting participation, ask employees to report on the agenda items they are responsible for. Ask the person to chair the discussions about their own tasks, which will keep him or her fully present.


Apply The 2-Pizza Rule

Amazon pioneered the idea of the “2-pizza rule” to ensure that non-essential people are not invited to meetings. Obviously if non-essential or non-participative people are sitting in a meeting, it’s a major time-waster for them and for the organisation.

How does it work? According to Amazon, two pizzas should be able to feed all the people at the meeting. If they won’t, you’ve invited too many attendees. Instead of holding one weekly meeting for everyone, split the meetings up to chair smaller groups and hold more focused meetings. And yes, if you want to do something completely different, order a pizza or two.

Cosapien has a work-around for this too. If an entire department will benefit from meeting outcomes, but it is physically impossible to host everyone in the same place, you can include the everone on the meeting minutes distribution list. So, while their active participation may not be required in the meeting itself, the meeting outcomes and task generation from the meeting may impact the whole department. When you are pre-minuting on Cosapien you can include everyone’s email address on your distribution list so that they are kept updated of the outcomes.


Develop Incentives For Holding Meetings

There’s a consequence for people arriving late at a meeting: it means you’re going to start and therefore finish later than you intended. It also creates disruptions when people arrive late, because you’ve got to stop your discussions and bring the late arrival up to speed.

Create incentives for people who arrive in time to prepare for the meeting. If the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 3pm, the attendees should arrive at 2:55pm so they can prepare mentally and settle down. Make mention of this when you send your agenda out; maybe this is not obvious to the attendees.

One suggestion for a consequence is to ask the person who arrives late to clean up afterwards but this could arguably create some hostility and be seen as petty management skills.

A more subtle way of enforcing punctuality and preparation is to hold your meeting an hour before the end of work. If you work till 5pm, hold the meeting at 4pm. That way, if the meeting runs late, attendees will not be able to leave on time. This may happen once, but meeting attendees will probably ensure that it is the first and last time it occurs.


Create Actionable Outcomes For The Meeting

Meetings that do not foster outcomes are time wasters and ultimately, protracted conversations. Cosapien automates the task generation and management process by encouraging you to make people responsible for what is discussed. To make sure the meeting is interactive, it is a good idea to ask each person present to reflect on the tasks he or she has been delegated.

Cosapien recommends that before you publish your meeting minutes, you should show everyone present the minutes on a projector and make sure everyone is in agreement. If you want to take this a step further, ask the person who has been delegated with the task to explain what they understand is required of him or her. And yes, make allowance on your agenda for this part of the meeting; it will take some extra time to get through.

Describe or explain each task’s deliverable in as much detail as possible. A week, a month (or even a day) later, it is easy to have forgotten what was agreed in the meeting.

Find out from each responsible person  what date they can commit to, to complete the tasks. This creates a psychological imperative, by urging the person to complete the work in time.

In summary, these were the secrets we dished out to help you run more productive meetings:

  1. Be considerate and hold your meetings on times and dates that are optimal for the people in your team
  2. Create a meeting agenda, send it out ahead of the meeting, and stick to it. Allocate time frames for each agenda item.
  3. Create accountability by making specific people responsible for specific tasks.
  4. Apply the 2-pizza rule and only invite the most relevant people to the meeting. Consider holding a few small meetings instead of one big meeting where everyone is invited.
  5. Develop consequences and incentives for punctual meeting attendance.
  6. Get consent on actionable meeting outcomes.


… A 7th secret: use Cosapien at every meeting to automate all of this. Remember, your mental resources are limited. Let Cosapien remember it for you. If you haven’t used Cosapien to manage productive meetings get your invite below:

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 Freemium SME / Group Business Enterprise Intelligence

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