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The 7 rules you must know to have productive meetings

February 12, 2020

What started as a conference, ended up being a lively and interactive talk.

4 min read

The opinions expressed by employees are personal.

The 7 rules you must know to have productive meetingsThe 7 rules you must know to have productive meetings

Recently, in a meeting with a new prospect for my business, I surprised myself and everyone else. Shortly after an executive from our advertising agency started talking and clicking on a perfect PowerPoint presentation, I stood up, walked to where I was sitting and closed the lid of her laptop.

Concerned that the energy was coming out the door, I explained that although we had 20 incredible case studies that we were happy to present, we would like to shake things up a bit. What better way to prove it by changing our approach in this introductory meeting? With this, I practically threw the board's agenda in the trash. Although I had not planned to interrupt this meeting, I liked what happened next: we had a great conversation about the objectives and challenges of our prospect, and yes, we talked about our experience. What started as a conference, ended up being a lively and interactive talk. Today, that prospect is our biggest customer.

I'm sure my team was a little surprised with my interruption, and I apologized to them later. But when it comes to meetings, I like them to be short, interactive and productive.

Here I leave you the seven rules to follow during work meetings:

1. Start on time

Five people meeting in a boardroom at 10 in the morning should not have to wait another five minutes for someone who is late. Close the door and start the meeting. Waiting for the unpunctual only reinforces this behavior. Thus, those who are late and interrupt others will stop doing so.

2. Set the objectives

From the beginning, make it clear what you expect to decide or achieve at the meeting. If there is an agenda, keep it short so that the objective is not diluted in a too long or detailed agenda.

3. Let your meetings be small

Try, if possible, to limit meetings to a maximum of five to seven people. When there are more people, many of those who end up being mere spectators.

4. Let your meetings be short

Usually, the amount of time you schedule to accomplish a task is the amount of time it really requires. An hour seems to be the default standard, probably because we rely on Google or Outlook calendars. Try to schedule 30 or 45 minutes together. Or even 15 minutes. Saving those 15 or 30 minutes ends up adding to everyone's time.

5. Seek everyone to contribute

In our company, if you don't speak at a meeting, they won't invite you again. Interaction and ideas are fundamental.

6. Create new rules for PowerPoint presentations

When a visual presentation is required, we have some guidelines. We try to use more images than words (I like to follow Twitter metrics and limit them to no more than 240 characters). We get rid of the jargon. We end with a summary of decisions and next steps.

7. Take it out

When it comes to a small group of people, I like to make meetings outside the boardroom. Sometimes we go for a walk or find a place to sit outside the office. For me, the boardrooms, even the coolest, make people feel at school.

Instead, a “moving” approach keeps ideas flowing. When we get stuck, I'm always willing to change my address, throw the agenda in the trash or even finish the meeting.

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