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< Productivity Glossary

What is a meeting?

A meeting is a gathering of two or more people who come together to discuss, collaborate, or make decisions on a topic or common goal. Meetings can occur in various settings, including offices, conference rooms, virtual spaces, or even informal settings like cafes. They can be either planned and scheduled with structured agendas and predefined goals, or unplanned and ad hoc around an urgent or timely topic that needs to be discussed. Meetings serve as a means for communication, coordination, problem-solving, decision-making, and collaboration among participants.

Here are some key stats on meeting use in business:

  • Professionals average 25.6 meetings per week.
  • Meetings have increased 69.7% since February 2020.
  • The average meeting length is 50.6 minutes long.
  • Professionals average 21.5 hours in meetings per week.
  • It takes over 10 minutes to reschedule a meeting on average.
  • 85.2% of one-on-one meetings are remote.

How do meetings work?

A business meeting typically follows a defined flow, often involving:

  • An agenda: A meeting agenda outlines the topics to be discussed, expected outcomes, and allocated time for each point.
  • Introductions & icebreakers (optional): Especially in larger groups, introductions can help build rapport and help everyone feel included.
  • Presentations or information sharing: This could involve reports, updates, or brainstorming sessions.
  • Discussion & collaboration: Participants share ideas, raise concerns, and work towards achieving the meeting's objectives.
  • Decision-making: Depending on the purpose, voting, consensus building, or leader-driven decisions may occur.
  • Action items & next steps: Clear tasks and responsibilities are assigned for future progress.
  • Meeting wrap-up & closing: Briefly summarize key points, acknowledge contributions, and ensure everyone understands the next steps.

Benefits of meetings

While meetings have many flaws and costs, they’re necessary for any successful business and can be very beneficial when conducted properly. Here are some of the key advantages of an effective meeting:

1. Sharing ideas

Meetings provide a dedicated space for brainstorming, sharing information, and discussing different perspectives. This can lead to richer ideas and solutions than individual efforts.

2. Alignment & understanding

Meetings help keep everyone on the same page about goals, projects, and important decisions. This reduces confusion and miscommunication.

3. Building relationships

Regular meetings foster connections between team members, leading to better collaboration, trust, and morale.

4. Gathering diverse perspectives

By involving different stakeholders, meetings consider a wider range of viewpoints, leading to more informed and well-rounded decisions.

5. Collective problem-solving

Complex problems often benefit from collaborative brainstorming and discussion. Meetings facilitate this process, leading to more creative and effective solutions.

6. Shared ownership

Decisions made jointly in meetings lead to greater ownership and commitment from participants, improving implementation.

7. Clarifying roles & responsibilities

Meetings can be used to assign tasks, set deadlines, and hold each other accountable, boosting overall productivity.

8. Identifying roadblocks & dependencies

Open communication in meetings helps uncover potential issues and dependencies early on, allowing for proactive solutions and avoiding delays.

9. Promoting transparency

Regular updates and discussions in meetings keep everyone informed and invested, potentially reducing rework and improving overall efficiency.

10. Building team spirit & morale

Regular interaction through meetings can cultivate a sense of belonging and shared purpose, improving team spirit and overall well-being.

11. Identifying & addressing individual concerns

Meetings provide a platform for raising concerns and offering support, leading to a more positive and productive work environment.

12. Promoting professional development

Meetings can be used for training, sharing best practices, and learning from each other, enabling continuous learning and growth.

Best practices for meetings

Here are some best practices for productive business meetings, whether in-person or virtual:

Before the meeting:

  • Define a clear purpose & desired outcome: What do you want to achieve by the end of the meeting? This will help you determine who needs to attend and what needs to be covered.
  • Create & share an agenda: Include key topics, discussion points, and estimated times for each. Send the agenda to attendees well in advance so they can come prepared.
  • Invite only necessary participants: Don't waste the time of the employees involved by inviting those who won't contribute or make decisions.
  • Choose the right time & format: Consider everyone's schedules and time zones. Decide if virtual or in-person meetings are best for the meeting's purpose and participants. You can also use the Reclaim Smart Meetings feature to automatically find the best time across both attendees schedules.
  • Set ground rules: Establish expectations for participation, communication, and technology use.

During the meeting:

  • Start on time: Respect everyone's time by starting and ending the meeting as scheduled.
  • Stick to the meeting agenda: Focus on the planned topics within the written agenda and avoid going off on tangents. If new points arise, decide if they can be addressed quickly or tabled as a later agenda item.
  • Facilitate discussion: Encourage participation from all attendees, but also make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and that the conversation stays productive.
  • Actively listen & acknowledge contributions: Show respect and build rapport by paying attention and responding to what others say.
  • Use visuals effectively: If presenting, keep slides concise and engaging. Use visuals strategically to support your points, not replace them.
  • Make decisions & assign action items: Agree on the next steps, who will do what, and by when.

After the meeting:

  • Share meeting notes: Summarize key points, decisions, and action items. Distribute them promptly to all attendees.
  • Follow up on action items: Hold people accountable for their assigned tasks.

Challenges with meetings

Even with best practices in place, business meetings can still face a variety of challenges. Here are some common ones:

  • Lack of clarity & purpose: If a meeting's purpose isn't clear or its goals are undefined, it can lead to wasted time, confusion, and frustration among participants.
  • Unpreparedness: Attendees arriving without information, insights, or even an agenda can hinder progress and derail discussions.
  • Domination by a few: Shy individuals or those with quieter personalities might be drowned out by more assertive meeting participants, leading to unbalanced input and missed perspectives.
  • Technical difficulties: Whether in virtual or hybrid formats, glitches, audio issues, or connectivity problems can disrupt the flow and frustrate participants.
  • Distractions: Multitasking, notifications, or a lack of focus can pull a team member away from the meeting and diminish their engagement.
  • Off-topic discussions: Tangents and irrelevant topics can sidetrack the meeting from its intended purpose and consume valuable time.
  • Lack of participation: Some attendees might feel intimidated, disengaged, or unsure of how to contribute, leading to a passive atmosphere and missed opportunities.
  • Unclear decision-making: Ambiguous conclusions or a lack of clarity on the next steps can leave participants confused and unsure of what was accomplished.
  • Meeting fatigue: Too many meetings, especially if they are poorly managed or have an overly long meeting time, can drain energy and lead to decreased productivity and engagement.

The different types of meetings

To maximize productivity and achieve your goals, knowing the right type of meeting is crucial. Here's a quick overview of the most common meeting formats and their purposes.

  • Daily stand-up meetings: Quick updates on individual progress and roadblocks.
  • Weekly team meetings: In-depth discussions on projects, challenges, and collaboration.
  • Progress update meetings: Track project progress, identify roadblocks, and adjust plans.
  • All-hands meetings: Company-wide updates, announcements, and recognition.
  • One-on-one meetings: Regular check-ins between manager and individual employee.
  • Brainstorming sessions: Generate new ideas and solutions in a creative environment.
  • Team-building meetings: Support collaboration, communication, and trust among team members (e.g., Team outings, social events)
  • Strategy meetings: Develop long-term plans and goals for the team or company.
  • Performance reviews: Evaluate individual performance and set goals for the future.

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