As a tech startup founders or team lead, your meetings should be a productive means to prioritize, solve problems, decide, and achieve your goals. Not a time waster.There are tons of posts on meeting productivity, but they often focus on superficial tactics:
These are nice ideas, but they don’t address the core issue with meetings: human nature and egos.In this post, we’ll give you a few key hacks that will definitely transform your virtual meetings into a productive and effective alignment and decision-making tool.
In his book High Output Management, Andy Grove explains that there are different types of meetings:
Today, we’ll cover the operational reviews, or the weekly meetings you have with your core management team.
There are three problems that fundamentally turn your virtual meetings into time wasters.
Too often meetings become a lazy (or default solution) to share information. It’s not a good use of your time to spend an hour in a meeting to have someone read information on a slide.I'm not saying that productive virtual meetings do not include information sharing. You just need a smarter way to get the information flowing.Instead of setting a meeting to get an update on a project or on how sales are going, create a simple Executive Dashboard to track key metrics or milestones on a weekly basis. If you see metrics going in the wrong direction, you can start asking questions, dig deeper, and use the meeting to make a decision. If all is on track, you can focus on something else.You can also use a simple Issue tracker to monitor special or unusual problems. Whenever you want an update, you can simply have a look at your document.
Of course, these solutions only work if your team updates these documents regularly. In our Growth Leap online course, we teach you how to implement these tools with your team without creating a massive bureaucracy. We show you exactly how to make your virtual meetings more productive and help you accelerate growth.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve attended plenty of virtual and in-person meetings on four continents. I’ve seen a clear trend.Asking your team to add any items to the agenda a few days before your meeting doesn’t work. Instead you end up with:
And that’s normal. You and your team are busy selling, developing, and supporting customers. It’s tough to get out of the weeds and think clearly about what needs to be discussed and prioritized in the next meeting if you don't have a simple system to track your projects and metrics.For many years I struggled to find an approach that would make my virtual meetings consistently productive. The solution I found is quite simple.You need a well-organized agenda structured around key themes. This helps you reduce decision fatigue and the last minute rush to fill out your agenda. It also helps remind you of the critical business challenges that you and your team need to address.Your agenda should cover themes like:
Many people like to hear themselves talk. Some like to show off their knowledge or accomplishments. Some like to repeat the same problems over and over again. Some like to speculate or gossip.To have productive virtual meetings, you need to establish a few rules. You don’t necessarily need to print a series of 10 commandments and show it at the beginning of each meeting. But you need to agree on 3-4 rules that people are allowed to remind the group whenever someone gets off track.For example, here are some rules I put in place:
To make these rules stick requires commitment, time, and consistency. You need to allow everybody to call it (in a nice way) when they see someone break one of the rules. In the long run, this will boost the productivity of your meetings especially as many are working remotely now.Make sure you discourage the show-offs, speculation, sales pitch of ideas, and instead, encourage people to find the root cause of your problems and fix them for good.
If you're tired of wasting your time and are ready to transform your virtual meetings, start using our meeting agenda template. This template walks you through each section of the agenda and what needs to happen.It’s an extremely effective tool to increase productivity, keep your team focused, and make faster and better decisions.After reading a lot about virtual meeting productivity and a lot of trial and error, I developed an agenda structure specifically designed for tech startups and scaleups.
It’s an extremely effective tool to increase productivity, keep your team focused, and make faster and better decisions.
First part (20 min.): Quick reporting on key metrics/aspects of your business
Second part (30 min.): Solve your top three issues
Conclusion (5 min.): Recap the to-dos and their owners, and agree if there are any messages that need to be cascaded to the teamsTotal meeting length: 55-60 minutes.
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As a tech startup founders or team lead, meetings should be a productive means to prioritize, solve problems, decide, and achieve your goals. Not a time waster. Don’t you think?How to make your meetings radically more productive [FREE template] 👇
Have a good one!