Happy Tuesday, folks! Today, we continue our blog series on the new GoToMeeting with some tips and tricks on how to revolutionize the way you think about meeting preparation.
We’ll kick things off with a sad reality: Did you know that managers spend anywhere from 35% to 50% of their time in meetings – yet executives consider over half of those meetings to be failures? Although it’s disheartening, it likely doesn’t come as a shock; especially if you’ve ever found yourself in a brainstorming session that’s too long, not long enough, confusing, frustrating or just downright unproductive.
Given the above, there are several solutions. You could cancel. You could reschedule. You could turn the meeting into an email or a group Slack discussion. These are all valid choices in a case-by-case basis. But instead of scrambling at the last second, why not focus on what happens before the meeting, so you can ensure success from the get-go?
Believe it or not, your meeting can fail even before it starts. Here’s what you should be thinking about as soon as you decide a meeting is necessary.
If you’re the host, you’re likely responsible for coordinating meeting logistics, including date, time, attendees and location. As such, your first priority is to know who should be participating. There will be some which will require the presence of higher ups or clients, so it’s best to give them enough time to prepare beforehand. These attendees will have the most complex schedules, so plan around their calendars before proposing tentative dates to others.
Next, check everyone’s availability. Avoid the hassle of going back and forth by asking everyone concerned what the best time for them will be, and instead offer up dates and times that they can choose from. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.
GoToMeeting tip: Email and calendars are critical for productivity, but sometimes they can be huge time sinks. With GoToMeeting’s Microsoft and Google calendar integrations, your meeting information is automatically added to your calendar with the push of a button.
Creating an agenda
Agendas are must-haves for meetings. Ask yourself: “What’s one thing I want to accomplish?” It could be something small – like an update on that cross-functional project, or big – like brainstorming a strategy to increase user engagement. Make sure everyone is aligned on the topic at hand so you’re not discussing conflicting ideas in one meeting. Follow these best practices as a starting point:
- Include crucial logistical details. Date, time, dial-in information, etc.
- Keep it brief. One or two sentences or a few bullet points should suffice.
- Aim to tackle no more than five topics. Long-winded meetings may start out with good intentions, but they ultimately end up being unproductive due to lack of engagement.
- Attach relevant documentation. Collaborating on a spreadsheet? Proposing changes to customer-facing content? Whatever it may be, give your attendees some context related to the upcoming discussion when it makes sense.
GoToMeeting tip: Maintaining a busy meeting schedule can be overwhelming. For an inclusive, all-in-one view of your meetings schedule, try the new GoToMeeting Hub! In the Hub, scheduling is simplified and optimized, making it easy to decide between one-time or any time meetings.
Your planning and organizing will pay off, but do remember to remain flexible. Oftentimes, subtopics and side conversations are uncovered during the meeting, so be sure to find ways to briefly accommodate them.
It pays to be prepared for contingencies. After all, nobody’s perfect! What’s important is that every meeting attendees stays engaged, and that the outcome is aligned to your goals and objectives.