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No more than once a week.
Remember the time you walked out of an hour long meeting that resulted in no conclusion and the entire team had no direction of how to proceed with things? You will never get that hour back again.
Very often, this lack of productivity in a meeting causes no preparation or planning before the meeting i.e., having no agenda!. I would argue that planning an effective meeting is more important than running the meeting itself . It's very easy to get the entire team on a call or in a room and discuss the topic at hand, but if you don't spend time preparing for it, it usually ends up being directionless, with no conclusion and just a complete waste of everyone's time.
Think about it - If an hour long meeting is going to be conducted with 5 people, you are essentially spending (or wasting) 5 hours of the organization's time which could have been used to add a lot more value to the organization, now imagine this at scale across a 10 thousand member organization. This is why it's absolutely imperative for leaders to plan and run effective and productive meetings, and here are some reasons why it's so important .
Every meeting has a purpose and there need to be certain outcomes or goals that need to be accomplished . Before anything it's important to figure out what these goals are as this helps you chart out the agenda and plan for the meeting keeping the goals in mind.
Informing the attendees about these goals prior to the meeting can also help them streamline their thoughts, which can only result in productive discussions.
The more prepared the attendees are the more productive the meeting will be. Which is why it's important to share the agenda at least 24 hours prior to the meeting so everyone attending knows the goals, what is expected of them and any resources they need to be prepared with. This removes any confusion and also gives everyone time to prepare.
This is important for meetings that are recurring, but picking up the meeting where you left off can be vital to productivity . So one should spend some time reviewing the minutes of the previous meeting , then get right to work on creating new ones. Since you've already shared the agenda and let everyone know what you plan to discuss, and also have the right people to discuss it - you'll be able to accomplish the action items from your last meeting and create new ones for your next one.
Creating an agenda is not only about ensuring that everyone has done their due diligence before the meeting but also about making sure that they know what is expected of them afterward. Meetings are essentially huddles to figure out what's next and strategize and discuss how each team/employee can get the organization there.
Every productive meeting has certain action items that are to be completed either before the next meeting or before the next phase of the project. Accomplishing these action items or to-do's of a company's collective business meetings is essentially the definition of doing business, so make sure you cover what is expected of everyone not just before and during the meeting but also action steps that are expected after the meeting.
Getting off topic during a meeting is often not the result of being unfocused or undisciplined but is rather due to people wanting to be heard . You need to see this need not as a hurdle to be overcome but as a strength to be harnessed . By creating an effective business agenda and inviting the appropriate people to ensure that your goals can be accomplished, you are letting participants know that you intend to address their concerns as long as they stick to the meeting agenda. People are naturally more willing to follow a business agenda if they can see in advance how the business meeting benefits them. This might seem like a bit of office politics, but it works.
In conclusion, the purpose having a detailed agenda aligns the team to spend those valuable meeting hours in the right way and limits all the waste discussions that we are all accustomed to. Spending some time and effort planning how you would run a meeting goes a long way in the organization's business goals. There is clarity throughout the meeting and all discussions are productive and move the needle for your business in the right direction .