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Meetings outside means better productivity

Streamline Your Meetings with tips from Apple & Google

The mere utterance of the word “meetings” is enough to cause any employee to grit their teeth and raise their fists to the heavens. Meetings are time-consuming, they hinder your productivity, and often you leave that boardroom feeling like you’ve taken several steps backwards instead of those leaps forwards that you were promised.

However, believe it or not, there ARE ways to run meetings so that you can elicit the results you need.

Global giants like Apple and Google have shifted up their meeting game and, as a result, they have grown into the prolific companies they are today. They’ve thrown out the traditional rule book, and now you can too.

With a dose of inspiration and a sprinkle of innovation, here are 12 strategies for restructuring your meetings for the better.

  1. Outline a specific agenda.

    Before entering that meeting room, have a clear sequence of events written down, and make sure every attendee is across the agenda and knows their purpose of being present. A good idea is to send out an email prior to the meeting which states exactly how the session will play out.

  2. Stick to allotted timeframes.

    One of the chief blunders made by many meeting-goers is the tendency to run into overtime. A key strategy Google is famous for is having a giant clock in the meeting room, which counts down the time to that final minute. By having these conscious time restraints in place, you help breed creativity and a dynamic meeting atmosphere.

  3. Implement DRIs.

    Apple manages to continuously churn out the goods by allocating Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs) to all tasks listed on the meeting agenda. As a result, no one is left wasting time trying to sort out who should be doing what.

  4. Prepare to challenge and be challenged.

    The pathway to success is paved with battles – after all, no one got anywhere by sitting idle. Challenging your employees in the meeting room doesn’t mean tearing them to shreds, but simply encouraging them to defend their ideas and work constructively with criticism. It’s about getting to the point quickly, rather than tip-toeing your way around issues.

  5. Appoint a singular decision.

    Despite its exponential growth, part of Google’s success is due to the fact that it has always held onto its start-up mentality. This means that one person leads the charge, so when it comes to making that final verdict, no time is wasted on menial deliberations over who has the last say, or which avenue is the best one to take.

  6. Put a cap on your meeting attendance.

    Let’s face it, a meeting isn’t a party, and therefore the age-old adage “the more the merrier” simply doesn’t apply. Steve Jobs viewed meetings as small groups of smart people. When you start to fill that room up with team members who aren’t essential to the meeting process, the chances for chatter and unrelated tangents increase significantly. Try to keep your attendance to a cap of 10 people; no more.

  7. Switch off your devices.

    Your meeting agenda shouldn’t allow for ad-hoc interruptions, so make sure your team members turn off those phones before entering the room. Take a look at President Obama – he requested all meeting attendees to ditch their devices at the door, creating a distraction-free, no-phone zone. If you want to take things an extra step further, ask your employees to revert back to old-school pen-and-paper methods for taking notes – digital devices such as laptops and tablets have the potential to hamper creativity and engagement.

  8. Trim the fat.

    It may seem harsh, but in order to stick to that strict meeting agenda you have carefully curated, you need to quickly dismiss ideas that simply aren’t feasible or conducive to the process. Make sure you cut out those non-essential items before they have the chance to crystallise into being and consequently slow down the show.

  9. Don’t wait for a meeting to make a decision.

    If those big companies waited to schedule a meeting every time a decision had to be made, nothing would get done. While meetings are of course an important aspect in many decision-making processes, they aren’t always necessary. If you simply must hold a meeting to make that final verdict, prioritise it and schedule it ASAP.

  10. Give your employees some paid post-meeting free time.

    Sounds controversial, I know, but the fact of the matter is that when you set aside a small block of time after your meetings, you encourage your employees to let fresh ideas flow based on the goals that have just been outlined. Still not convinced? Well, it is during that 20% of free time that the concepts of Google Earth and Gmail came into existence.

  11. Change up your meeting location.

    The traditional boardroom parameters no longer apply – business leaders should recognise that they have the freedom to hold meetings wherever they like. By switching up the place and getting together in a relaxed environment like a public park, or a social atmosphere such as a café, you may find that you even begin to enjoy meetings! The change of scenery isn’t just a nice break from the office, but it also helps to encourage more engagement from team members and higher levels of creativity.

  12. End your meetings with actionable steps.

    Last but certainly not least, it is important that each attendee walks away from the meeting with concrete tasks to get started upon. Make sure that momentum continues to roll on even after you’ve closed those boardroom (or otherwise) doors.

By applying a few of these top tips from some of the best in the business game, you will create a work environment grounded in energy, productivity, and super-slick operations.


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