Introduction

Let's start with some hard truths about meetings.

  • Organisations spend about 15% of their time in meetings.
  • Up to 50% of all meetings are considered a waste of time by those who attend them.
  • Over 45% of people feel overwhelmed by the number of meetings they have to attend.
  • 91% of people admit to daydreaming or zoning out of meetings regularly
  • Employees regularly spend 31 hours in unproductive meetings every month.

Meetings can be an incredible burden on organisations.



The instinctive reaction is to tar every meeting with the same brush and become jaded. You may just accept that meetings are a necessary evil, particularly within large hierarchical organisations.

You then try to avoid as many meetings as you can while simultaneously being frustrated that people are never truly engaged in the sessions you run.  

These zombie meetings, where no real progress is made apart from the booking of more meetings, is why we feel so burned out while achieving so little.

The negative spiral continues until you're in back to back meetings all day and the only time you can find to get "real" work done is at lunch or after work.

But don't be disheartened, there is a better way to create more productive meetings.


Generate Momentum

Meetings don't occur in a vacuum. When you enter a session you bring with you all the past experience (or baggage) from previous sessions you've attended.

So every time you run an engaged, focused and productive meeting you build goodwill and momentum towards the next (the opposite is also true).

To run a successful session, focus on these 3 core components.

1. Engagement

The goal is to create a psychologically safe environment where everyone is capable and eager to contribute.  

High engagement means that you are getting the best from the people you have invited.

2. Focus

The goal is to generate momentum by avoiding distractions, reducing cognitive load and focusing participants' attention.

High focus means that you can reduce the time needed and run shorter sessions.

Quality

The goal is to fixate on achieving high-quality outcomes rather than ticking off agenda items.

High quality means that you get better outcomes from each session and make progress towards your goals faster.


Remote Meeting – Facilitator Cheatsheet

Our guide for improving engagement, focus and quality in your next session.

Download available at the top of the page

Canvas Walk Through

Step 1: Set the Scene

How did we get here, and where are we going?


Step 2: Select your physical space

Without realising it, the physical space in which we conduct meetings significantly impacts the dynamic of the meeting itself.

Even if just subconsciously, the room in which a meeting is held changes our expectations and actions. When organising an online meeting, we need to convey this information more explicitly.


Step 3: Calculate your investment

The more people you invite and the longer you require their presence, the more the meeting costs your organisation.

Without the hard limit of physical space, online meetings tend to have more people and run longer than their in-person equivalents.

There is nothing inherently better about a small short meeting than a large long one. Both have their place, but it is important to consciously decide how much should be invested in this particular meeting to get the desired outcome.

Calculate the relative size of the investment and ask yourself: are you going to get a return?


Step 4: Select your invitees

List each participant and what they bring to the session.

Consider what each person brings to the meeting and their mindset coming in.

Make sure to nominate both a Decider and Facilitator

Decider

Don’t be confused, this is not the most senior or the highest-paid person in the room.

This is the person who we are going to let make the quick decision if a consensus cannot be reached in the room.

Facilitator

The person who will set the tone, facilitate inclusive collaboration and drive the meeting forward.


Step 5: Design the meeting blueprint

A meeting blueprint is a visual representation of the discussion you want to facilitate.

A Meeting Blueprint can:

Allow small groups to work autonomously and tackle smaller problems within a larger whole without going off track.

Provide a scaffold for discussion and allow for structured creativity.

Be more interesting and memorable than a text based agenda

Visualise abstract concepts

Reduce the need for static documentation and meeting minutes