Improve Your Meetings by Asking These 2 Questions

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 4/1/2024
Improve Meetings Article Header

We need to improve our meetings for productivity, speed and innovation.

If your team is struggling to make meetings efficient and effective, ask these two questions: What is the purpose of the meeting, and who really needs to be involved?

What is the purpose of your meeting?

To help you decide who needs to attend the meeting, you need to first categorize the meeting into one of the following types:

  1. Decision-making meeting.
  2. Innovative solutions and coordination/working meeting.
  3. Information-sharing meeting.

Decision-making meeting

When it comes to decision-making meetings, it’s very important to ensure everyone is clear about who has a voice but not a vote or veto. Formalizing who is directly responsible for outcomes and identifying handoffs is helpful. You should walk into this type of meeting with recommendations in hand. And if the meeting devolves into a working meeting, the decision-makers should be free to leave.

Innovative solutions and coordination/working meeting

If the purpose of the meeting is to come up with innovative solutions or brainstorm solutions to be brought to a decision-making meeting, then it’s important that employees are empowered to come up with said solutions. Managers should provide guidance and guardrails to ensure accountability but then step back.

Information-sharing meeting

Then there are the information-sharing meetings. If one-way sharing is needed, consider if there needs to be a meeting at all. You may instead be able to employ a different method of communication, such as a memo, email, podcast, vlog or town hall. If two-way sharing is needed, e.g., the information is sensitive or employees need time to process the information and ask questions, then a meeting should be held.

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Who (really) needs to attend the meeting?

The financial and transactional costs of meeting participation are real, so make sure only the people who absolutely need to be there are present. To help narrow down the list of meeting participants, teams often use the DARE Decision-Making Model:

  • Deciders: Who will ultimately vote on the project? The executives who are accountable for the project are the deciders.
  • Advisors: As the name implies, the advisors advise the deciders. They offer their opinions and conduct additional analysis as needed.
  • Recommenders: These are the stakeholders who do the pros and cons analysis. Their work must be high-quality in order to give the deciders the information they need to make informed decisions.
  • Execution stakeholders: These are the people who carry out and implement the final/decided upon project; they get the work done.

The DARE model helps you to minimize the number of people you invite to a meeting by assigning people specified roles, and if they don’t fit a role, they are not needed at the meeting. All that said, be sure that each stakeholder knows what their designated role is. A project can quickly unravel if people are unsure.

Unnecessary meetings can drain energy and lead to information overload, which ultimately leads to disengagement, lower productivity and less innovation. If you want to drive better business performance, a meeting redesign is in order.

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