To fix this we set expectation that all tickets for the next session should be read and questions asked before the meeting. This wasn’t easy to get used to, but quickly the sessions shortened in length and everyone found that the meetings were much more valuable.
I've tried to identify different types of meetings and suggest ideas to improve them.
A discussion is an ad hoc focused meeting on a specific topic.
- Make sure there is a pre-read and an agenda!
- Choose just the right amount of people to get the problem solved, don’t spam invite, talk to people before hand and see if their attendance makes sense
- Encourage people to comment and ask questions on the pre-read
Normally these meetings have a regular cadence, and discuss topics that affect a group of people in a similar role or domain.
- Have an agenda with the different topics
- Make the meeting optional, so people can join to discuss the topics if they are interested
- Record the meeting per topic, this is high effort but great for sharing after
- Try to use a task board rather than a document for running meetings
- Focus on discussions, announcements can go in slack or document based communication
In these meetings often groups of people give updates on current progress, such as standups or project meetings. With stand-ups there has been a move from yesterday, today, blockers to walking the board, but the next step remotely seems to me to be everything should just be updated regularly.
- There should be somewhere, preferably automated where I can see the current state of a project/team quickly
- These meetings are often low value for the majority of people, high value for a few and get worse the bigger the group
- Try to automate status updates and have meetings for specific discussions
Normally a big group of people with a small group of talkers
- Could we just record videos or write articles to replace these?
- Individual videos & articles are preferred as people can skip/skim the ones that aren’t relevant rather than forcing peoples attention
- High value!
- Have an agenda!
- Most important meetings in the calendar!
- Try not to mix with work, these meetings are pure social so we can keep work meetings short and people can have breaks in between meetings
- only meetings that should run to fill time, all other meetings we should be trying to reduce the amount of time, except maybe 1:1s?
The point here is not to have no meetings, but to make sure our meetings have the right amount of people for a reasonable amount of time. Freeing up more time can help give us more bandwidth for high value activities that come from the same bucket. 1:1s, pairing, etc. We can only really unlock the value from those if we don't ask people to use their energy on the others.
Call to action
Try out some tips, share your own! and we can all look forward to higher quality meetings!