Listen, I get it. You’re probably looking for an article on how to reduce meetings. There are 25 million meetings per day in the United States. We’ve all been in meetings we know could have been an email. I don’t want to run more meetings; I want you to run better meetings. For me, better meetings means more inclusive meetings. How does this translate to your meeting workflow?
Around 63% of meetings take place without an agenda. A meeting agenda should be the roadmap to your meeting. If you’ve determined a meeting is a needed, an agenda should include how the team will dive in, what will be reviewed, and next steps. Meeting goals should also be laid out to measure the success of the meeting. What decisions need to be made? What does this mean for the project as whole? How will this affect how we move forward?
Make It Inclusive: Take a step back and make sure you’re not assuming a mutual understanding of what you will cover and why from your attendees. You may know the value of discussing an artifact but that does not mean everyone else does or sees it in the way you do. This is especially crucial if this is an external meeting with a client. Add context for the team members that will help them get in the mindset to show-up to meeting as ready as possible.
Making the meeting roaster list should happen in tandem with the meeting agenda. Usually, this is determined by the roles & responsibilities of the team members and team makeup. Do we need the full team? Is this a client facing meeting? Do we need other leadership involved? We all want to be careful with the precious resource of time so often we have to weigh if taking away those 30 minutes or hour is necessary.
Make It Inclusive:
With your agenda, you should have a clear idea on how much time you will need for each item. This should help you drive the discussion, get the conversation back on topic if it veers, and segway to new topics. As facilitators, it’s best practice to start off the meeting with a preview of what you will cover and the goals and end the meeting revisiting if it accomplished what it set out OR there’s another follow-up discussion to schedule. During the discussion, you’re likely to call-out specific team members (especially with our new remote meeting etiquette) to hand-off discussion or ask for input.
Make It Inclusive: This is where you have the best opportunities to make it inclusive.
Lastly, one thing we don’t often openly discuss is accessibility of meetings we run. Here’s a few areas that have helped me shape how I design meetings:
We have a lot of opportunities to create more inclusive AND productive meetings. It’s important to constantly reassess these pillars of meetings. It may and will likely change based on the project, client, team, phase of the project, the health of the project, or a business goal of your organization. Make sure you are regularly checking in with your team to see where there are opportunities for you to make a safer space for all. How are you designing inclusive discussion?