Meetings are not always the enemy, being unprepared to lead one is.
Meetings are always a topic of dispute, with each successful leader having some opinion or style. The internet has more than enough “protips” from some very successful people. That said these tips are for the most part generic. This post is to give some type of insight as to where I’ve landed in meetings and an attempt to be a bit more specific. If you’re looking for a TLDR, then just read below and move on. I promise it won’t hurt my feelings.
Sheryl Sandberg , “runs with the help of a decidedly undigital spiral-bound notebook. On it, she keeps lists of discussion points and action items. She crosses them off one by one, and once every item on a page is checked, she rips the page off and moves to the next. If every item is done 10 minutes into an hourlong meeting, the meeting is over.” – Source
Here’s the simple and repeatable template I use (written in a single page document) most often for exploratory or problem-solving meetings. You know the meetings that are normally too speculative in my opinion.
- Identify the singular purpose of the entire meeting
If you know the answer to this, then the meeting is probably done. Example: “In order to solve the breaking of the really important widget we need to do [INSERT BIG HARD SOLUTION THAT SHOULD BE BROKEN DOWN LATER].”
- Write down all of the unknowns.
Unless you shouldn’t be having this meeting at all, these answers lead to the answer to the question above. These are small questions like… “Why is the widget breaking?” “When did we last change the widget?” This can also be reviewing the origin bug report, request, or whatever else is an unknown that could lead to valuable results or insight.
- Team consensus, “This is how we’re going to solve this problem”.
This bit is not as easy to summarize in a post like this because it varies how to approach this based on the team, issue, and many other factors. The general sense is that you need to get your team to an agreement. Best case scenario you’ve already got one from the discussion of everything else (normally happens with my teams), worst you have to dictate a solution. The latter is my personal opinion and I understand that it’s unavoidable in some situations. In those situations, it’s best to be transparent at the start of the meeting because wasting people’s time sucks.
NOT wasting everyone’s time leads us to the point of this post. I do this because it gets to the solution and allows for my teams to get back to doing the wonderful things they’re very good at and enjoy doing!
I hope this helps or is insightful or something… 😛 – Will