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12 Ways You Can Run Your Meetings Like Apple and Google

It’s a fact: bad meetings drain time, attention span and productivity. When a group of people without a plan assembles in a room, more often than not they’ll end up staring into space, wasting time and not paying attention.

The great news is, it’s simple to turn a meeting from bad to good with just a few simple steps. Those people who know how to run good meetings swear by them. In fact, former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, loves them. “It’s the most efficient way to present data and opinions, to debate issues, and yes, to actually make decisions,” he says.

So how can you take tips from Google and Apple – the biggest tech firms in the world today? Step one is to not be afraid to reinvent the wheel sometimes. The best companies are always reinventing the rules. Here’s how to follow in the steps of the tech giants and run your meetings efficiently:

  1. State your meeting’s purpose beforehand

When they enter the meeting, every employee should have a clear sense of what they’re doing there. Set an agenda ahead of time so everyone is on track – and so no one feels like their time is wasted.

  1. End the meeting with actionable steps

Sure, you may have had a productive meeting, but this is all a wasted effort if you don’t go away with a clear action plan. Knowing what they have to achieve after the meeting will also keep the momentum of the meeting flowing.

  1. Work within a schedule

There’s no need for a task to take up more time than it’s worth. If you set a clear end time, you’ll be able to produce high quality work without the procrastination or confusion that comes with no deadline.

Google’s famous for keeping a large clock on the wall during meetings to keep employees on track.

  1. Appoint someone to be directly responsible for the meeting

At Apple, they appoint a ‘directly responsible individual’ to be responsible for each agenda item. This puts people to work as they take ownership of each task, and holds them accountable if the job isn’t completed.

  1. Challenge your employees to achieve great things

While we don’t have to be on the same level as Steve Jobs, inspiring awe in his employees, it’s still great to be able to set challenges and inspire your employees to defend their ideas. They should be passionate about what they do, and inspired by their work.

  1. Appoint someone to make decisions

You just need one decision maker – ensure it’s clear who it is. Google’s current CEO, Larry Page, says that the company’s success comes mostly because it acts “like a hungry start up”, removing bureaucracy. If you appoint just one person, your meetings will go by more efficiently and you’ll make decisions much quicker.

  1. Only invite the vital people

It doesn’t make sense to cram the meeting room full; only invite the people who are most relevant to the project at hand. Most experts say the limit is 10, and everyone should be able to contribute something essential.

  1. Leave your mobile phone behind

One of the most influential people in the world, Barack Obama, insists that his employees leave their mobile devices outside the meeting room. The phone-free zone will promote engagement and creativity, and make it simpler to focus on the task at hand.

Studies even show that taking notes with pen and paper enhances retention more than typing away on a computer. Even better, you’ll be able to doodle, which can increase the rate you remember information by a massive 29%. Get scribbling.

  1. Only call meetings when they’re really necessary

Sometimes meetings are essential, but sometimes they can slow down the whole process. Set up a meeting only when there’s no other way to reach a decision and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a streamlined company.

  1. You can make decisions before a meeting

If a decision is vital, don’t wait until the meeting happens before you call it. You can always decide out of the schedule to make things move forward faster.

  1. Give your employees some free time afterwards

Especially for the more introverted among us, meetings can be draining. Reward your employees for their hard work and concentration in the meeting itself by providing them paid free time after the meeting itself.

The downside here is that productivity may be slowed but if you’re worried about this, think of Google. The company lets employees work on their own projects for 20% of work hours – this approach has seen the creation of Google Earth and Gmail.

  1. Choose the right location

You don’t have to stick to the traditional boardroom format for meetings. Mix up the location and hold your meeting in a local café or a park, where your employees will feel more relaxed. The environment will help ideas flow better and make everyone more creative.

These are just some of the best tips from Google and Apple for how to run the most productive meetings. See if you can take some tips – and think of what other meeting hacks have worked for you.


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