The ability to conduct smarter meetings is becoming an essential skill to have. It is especially important since our own data tells us that employees have an average of 15 meetings every week!
External-facing employees will find that it is especially important to facilitate smarter meetings. An effective meeting can move the dial, while unproductive meetings waste valuable time and leave clients feeling restless.
From leveraging scheduling software to crafting a great follow-up email, here’s your ultimate checklist to having smarter meetings.
Planning the Meeting
Nothing derails a meeting more than a lack of preparation. Here is what to consider prior to your meeting.
1. Do you really need this meeting? Be honest with yourself when you decide to schedule a meeting. The last thing employees and clients need in their day is another meeting that could have been an email, or an ad hoc phone call.
2. Scheduling for success: Once you decide the meeting is necessary, slot the meeting in as painlessly as possible. Here are some tips depending on the type of meeting you have.
External 1:1 meetings: To ensure your external meeting is scheduled in, make sure to be flexible as much as possible with the time slots you offer. In addition, you can minimize email tag by leveraging a scheduling tool to help avoid conflicts or time zone confusion.
Group meetings: Determine who needs to be there, and identify who your VIPs are (those who MUST be present for the meeting to function smoothly), and who can be optional. Harvard Business Review says the most productive meetings have under 8 attendees, so plan accordingly to drive insightful conversation without derailing from the meeting topic.
Once you determine the invitee list, group your internal employees’ availabilities and offer time slots to your external guests that work for every body. Alternatively, you can leverage a scheduling software or a scheduling assistant to help slot your meeting in – it would do everything you do manually, but in less time so you can focus on other tasks.
3. Include your meeting Details:If you are leveraging a scheduling software or tool, look out for one that can also assist with including meeting details. If not, make sure to:
Establish an agenda that you will stick to: This agenda will cover what you will be going over. A great agenda explains why this meeting is important, and includes any preparation that guests should complete prior to the meeting.
Include the Location: Will this be an in-person or a virtual meeting? Include a dial-in if its a virtual meeting.
4. Review your attendee list: Meetings are often scheduled days, if not weeks in advance. When the meeting creeps up, the original attendee list may not be as relevant. Double check your list, and remove any attendees that no longer need to be there to free up their time, or include any that you may have missed.
5. Include travel time for yourself When hosting a meeting, it’s best to show up a few minutes in advance. This can be hard to do when you have meetings back-to-back, so try and schedule some travel buffer time. This helps ensure you can catch a breath before the next meeting.
Attending the Meeting
1. As the meeting organizer, arrive five minutes early: This is time you can use to review the agenda, ensure the technology you need is working or simply to compose yourself.
2. Establish meeting etiquette and be the example setter: Depending on the meeting, you can kindly request that guests do not check their mobiles or their laptops to ensure that they are present with the discussion.
3. Stay on agenda and leverage a parking lot: To ensure you meet the objectives of your meeting, stay on the agenda. For topics that are not covered by the meeting agenda, establish a parking lot – ideas to be revisited at a later time.
4. Take strategic notes: Even the greatest meetings will err on the side of ineffective if there were no documentation of what was discussed. Especially in group meetings, where ideas are bountiful and easy to forget. A great meeting minute includes:
a) What was discussed and agreed upon
b) Any action Items for attendees
c) Parking lot items, and when to revisit
After the Meeting
Send a follow up email: While it takes time to follow up with every meeting, it is a great habit to cultivate over time. Follow up emails with clients or group meetings help hold all attendees accountable to what was discussed and agreed upon. Make sure to include your meeting minutes, action items, and parking lot items.
Determine if a follow up meeting is necessary: If yes, proceed to schedule as far in advance as possible to accommodate all attendees. Use your scheduling software to do this as well to save time.
Extra Tips for Better Workdays
Meetings with yourself: While it’s important to have great meeting habits, it’s also important to schedule time for yourself. Block time off in your calendar for focus time, travel time, or any other time in which you don’t want to have meetings in. This increases productivity, while ensuring you are not a victim to your own calendar.
Re-evaluate recurring meetings on a monthly basis: It’s tempting to schedule in recurring meetings for meetings like status updates. However, not every recurring meeting will be useful, so re-evaluate them on a regular basis. This will clean up your calendar, and your invitees will also appreciate the time back. Look for scheduling software that can also help you reschedule or cancel meetings on the fly.
There you have it! The ultimate checklist for better meetings. Download our checklist for free below, or our high-res versions here.
Zoom.ai is a scheduling software solution that lives inside of your chat platform or your inbox to offload meeting scheduling and more. Leveraging the power of AI, it adds a layer of intelligence to your workday by helping you slot in meetings faster, follow up with invitees, easily add in agendas and even booking meeting rooms.