In November 2019, Forbes reported that half of all meetings are a waste of time. Currently, with so many meetings being held virtually, people are suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’, stating that they are spending 8-10 hours a day in meetings.
Reinventing the meeting agenda is the first step to creating a healthy work/meeting balance for employees. Truly valuing and respecting your employees includes valuing and respecting their time and giving them as much flexibility as possible in the current remote environment.
The first item on any meeting agenda needs to state the meeting’s purpose – the why you are having a meeting and the specific and measurable results the meeting will achieve. If you do this well, and have a culture of open and honest communication, attendees will be prepared to discuss the topic(s) or contact you to opt out of the meeting.
The meeting purpose is necessary to start planning your meeting because planning requires you to define what needs to happen to achieve the results defined in the purpose. If the result of the meeting is for the board to vote on necessary monthly items and update board members on the current state of finances, projects, current committees, and new business opportunities, then think about the measurable results needed and write them down:
- Board member social engagement
- Approve Minutes from last meeting
- Approve current financials
- Understand current project status for each active project
- Understand status for each active committee
- Vote on any current or future spending not in the budget
- Vote on any new projects or committees
- Recap of industry conference
Once you have the outcomes you need to achieve, you will next determine if the information is:
Important – the information is necessary to achieve the results defined in the meeting’s purpose
Informative – the information will benefit the participants and is not necessary to achieve the meeting’s purpose
Passive – the communication is one-way (telling or reporting information)
Interactive – input, dialogue, voting, consensus, or collaboration is required
Meetings require all participants to be present and therefore a captive audience. Currently, meetings are used to review information so that you can be sure the participants have both heard and acknowledged the topics or content. In other words, participants are not held accountable for any prework or preparation and are not given flexibility with their time due to lack of structure and planning. Reinventing the meeting format and structure will allow you to give participants more control of their time and schedule and increase accountability and action.
After assigning each agenda item to an agenda quadrant, analyze the options for delivering the content. This could be via video, Slack, comic strip, etc. Get creative because your participants are overwhelmed with email and want to receive the information in short digestible segments. In the above example, the updates could be delivered in short video clips, a one-page flyer with pictures, an animated PowerPoint presentation, etc. The recap of the industry conference could be setup in SharePoint, Slack, or a community site as a conversation with the new ideas or findings asking people to share their ideas and thoughts, or just a written summary with bullet points.
Social and team camaraderie should be delivered in a social setting whether virtual, in-person, or blended. These events need to encourage interactive conversations and include activities or prompts that allow participants to connect. This is not part of a business meeting, but an activity that needs to happen outside of the meetings to make the meetings more effective. In most cases, several options need to be considered to value people’s time and schedule, like offering a morning, afternoon and after hours gathering and letting people choose which time frame works the best for their schedule. If there is not one right time for the group, offer to rotate the offerings, or vote in in a meeting for consensus. It is very important to include social engagement and activities in your organizations and groups, and having these social engagements will increase productivity, connectivity, and engagement. These social meetings need to be fun, engaging, interactive and designed for both introverted and extroverted personality types. They can include yoga, walking, coffee, food, happy hours, games, etc.
After the pre-work is determined, it is time to build the agenda.
The agenda will include the meeting purpose, attendees, pre-work, items to cover with time frames, and any accountability items from the last meeting. Go to https://meetingmechanic.com/horsepower/ to view some examples of agendas and learn more about creating the perfect agenda.
The meeting time will be much shorter, giving the participants time to create the materials necessary for the meeting. Restructuring the meeting time in this format gives participants more time in their schedule and allows for greater work/life balance. It also creates a culture of accountability and ensures that each person is prepared and ready to create results.
Technology has given us many great ways to communicate, socialize, share information, and get work done. Utilizing other avenues to shorten meeting times and create more accountability will allow your organization to reinvent the work/meeting balance for everyone and ensure business meetings are a space where work gets done, and results are realized. It is a change and will require leaders to rethink the way they communicate information but reinventing the way we hold meetings will show immediate, measurable results.