The quest for meaningful meetings is at the forefront of most leaders’ minds. Every time a meeting is dull, runs over or ends with no clear actions points, the chair will internally mutter, ‘it will all be different next time.’
But how do you make it different? Don’t fall into the trap of believing a meeting didn’t have value just because it didn’t go quite as planned. We debunk three persistent meeting myths to help you make that next Teams call better.
‘That meeting could have been an email’
It’s a common meme whose belief is backed up by social science. In 2021, a report by Survey Monkey showed that 32 per cent of respondents believed most meetings could have been an email. But on further inspection it wasn’t the meeting itself or even the subject matter that was the issue – it was the way the meeting was run.
Set a time limit, have a clear agenda, make sure there is a chair to keep things moving. These were the major complaints. Make sure you get employee feedback on how meetings are run. People value face to face conversation, but everyone’s busy. Most meetings could not be an email, but in order for them to be effective they need to stay on task.
Everyone hates meetings
Perhaps fuelled by the meme above, there is a misconception that all employees hate meetings, feel they are a tick box exercise, and would rather have the time to spend on their day to day. Again, it isn’t the meeting itself that is at fault. Make sure you are timing meetings appropriately.
Mondays and Fridays are terrible days for meetings as people are either getting to grips with their working week or mentally checking out of it. Morning meetings drain employees of their most productive time while lunchtime meetings – unless catered – will not win you manager of the year. A survey by When Is Good found that 3pm on a Tuesday was the best time for a team catch up as everyone had their week planned, were fed and watered and had ticked off most tasks for the day. Ask your own team when is best for them and make sure you remain flexible.
Meeting minutes are pointless
Who reads the minutes, right? They’re just there for posterity. If it’s an important board meeting, crucial to the financial or strategic direction of the business, minutes are a legal requirement – but no one else needs them… or do they?
In fact, meeting minutes are useful the majority of the time. If you’re holding a meeting where you are reviewing the progress of a project and identifying the next steps – so, most meetings – then minutes are essential. They will canonise the egress so far, and set out clear action points and who has responsibility for them. This helps the PM stay on track, and it also means your team can refer back, not to check up on each other, but to make sure they know what they are doing, or to find out who has responsibility for something if they need to ask a question. Don’t let the intern take the minutes. This is a trusted job for a senior member of the team.
Find out how to hold better meetings and communicate more effectively on our Think on Your Feet® programme.