Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Last week, we discussed this era’s overreliance on Zoom, and when we need to step away from the video call — or from a meeting altogether. It’s just not always necessary! Remember: a meeting exists for one reason only: to solve a problem that can’t be solved any other way. Passing along information doesn’t require a meeting; it can be accomplished with a report. Having a discussion or solving a problem is what meetings are for.

Most meetings are a waste of time — and this is coming from someone who goes to meetings for a living.

But for the times you really, truly do need a meeting, how can you make sure it’s as effective as possible? How can you grow as a team to make your meetings powerful and efficient?

I always recommend a process of growth. Every meeting you have, take time to review and see how you could have done it better. A great question for the end of a meeting (when they don’t run over and need to end abruptly) is how well did the meeting go, on a scale of 1-10? Go around the room. Everyone answers. No debate, just a number. After the team answers that, then ask: what could make that number a 10? Again, everyone answers. The whole process takes a minute or two. No debate. Most people view most meetings as a waste of time; this simple process asks people not just to quantify the value, but to help improve it to a 10. The questions help the team to look inward and see what they could do differently, and provide a space for key feedback to help you improve as a leader in the process.

If we think about a meeting as a product, we should be looking to improve it at each iteration. No defensiveness or arguing, just a quick question and follow-up to see where the meeting can change.

What do you need to adjust to make this more valuable? All aspects of my work come down to this: asking the questions that tend to be avoided. We fear the truth. I don’t want to ask you how you think the meeting went if I don’t think it went very well, but we need to push through and ask the hard questions if we want results. Not all the problems are mine, but as the leader I take responsibility for finding a solution to all problems.

Creating a culture of trust that allows opportunities for people to be vulnerable should be your ultimate goal. Everybody wants a better meeting; no one wants to waste each other’s time.

So start by asking: how can we be better?