Efficient Meetings are Possible

Tired of PowerPoint meetings, the President of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, decided one day to do away with slide presentations and go back to using paper and pencils. At each meeting, his executives would deliver a six-page brief explaining their ideas. This document was called the Six Page Narrative.

When you think about it, the method makes sense: most presentations are boring. People don’t even pay attention after a few seconds and the person presenting doesn’t know if anyone is listening. However, with this initiative, they’re all required to invest the first 20 minutes in reading and taking notes to be able to debate afterwards. Ideas like Prime came out of all this.

“We all know how to conduct effective meetings, but does everyone actually put it all into practice in the day-to-day?”

Applying this method to most meetings held within organizations may not be very appropriate either due to their low relevance (often routine with a relatively low impact) or the time involved (only a few actually prepare for meetings, so forget writing six whole pages!). Luckily, taking advantage of meetings and making them truly beneficial can be quite easy. All you have to do is have a little interest and take a little time to prepare and develop them in addition to taking on any tasks or work that come out of them.

Before a Meeting

The most important thing is to define why you’re meeting and with who. We often attend meetings, not really knowing what we’re doing there. So, only the essential participants should be called to meet.

You’ve got people there, so what are you going to talk about? Including an agenda in the notification (sending them by email well enough in advance is recommended in order to arrange timetables) will help understand the aims. And, if appropriate, include any documentation so everyone can be knowledgeable. These basics will help create a list of the issues to be discussed at the meeting.

During a Meeting

Your time is money and so is everyone else’s. So, it’s important to respect the timetable set for meetings (an hour is usually enough; but, the less, the better) as the attention span of those present will drop as the minutes go by. A clock that is visible to everyone present helps keep time and move along the agenda in a structured way without anyone becoming too overbearing during the meeting.

If you’re at a meeting, it’s because your presence is important; so, your participation is too. You should express your opinions in order to enrich the dialogue. But always remember to be respectful and positive. Reserving the end for debate is advisable as is having someone be the moderator.

If you need technical resources to share information, you should check beforehand to make sure they adapt to your needs so there are no unexpected situations that affect the meeting (Is there Wi-Fi? Are the connections compatible with all your equipment?).

The Perfect End

No meeting should end without summarizing what was discussed and any agreements. To encourage recall and establish a commitment with pending tasks, one of the people present should be responsible for writing the minutes to be shared with all others in attendance as quickly as possible.

All of this is probably very well-known by most people. But, does everyone actually put it all into practice in the day-to-day? These simple guidelines can help optimize your time and make you more efficient, so applying them is no doubt worth it.