By now we’re pretty sure we know a thing or two about having good meetings. So it’s not a surprise that we are trying to improve them at every step of our way. Just last week our CTO briefly mentioned how he has scored one of his weeklies to see if it should just get canceled. Needless to say, everyone should evaluate the necessity of their meetings – either to spare their company resources or to just get back time for more important work.
There’s probably a no one-way answer. But here’s how we’re tackling it. (Yes, the CTO’s meeting got canceled after this test and no one has missed it ever since.)
How does that differ from running effective meetings?
It turns out – a lot. This is actually the very first step you should be making for your periodical meetings. You know, the ones you are dreading every week. Once you’ve got the answer whether you should continue to organize them or not, then you can focus on how to get them as efficient and effective as possible.
Why is it important to have good meetings?
To be honest, it’s concerning how much time is being wasted sitting in meetings.
Now let’s crunch some numbers. We’re assuming that 5 people are sitting in your weekly cross-departmental meeting. It usually lasts for almost two hours since everyone makes sure to update the other on what’s currently going on and what are the hiccups on the roadmap. Between 5 people, that’s 10hours of work wasted in one week. In one year, it’s 500 hours that could be spent better.
Before we dive into the assessment we want to make one thing extremely clear – meetings are important when done right. Send out that meeting agenda, write clear meeting minutes, book a room in advance and create actionable next steps. Keep in mind the time invested in one meeting and make sure your ROI is worthwhile.
And as with running your business, when planning out the importance of your meetings you should consider the product-market fit strategy.
Product-market fit for scoring meetings?
Remember the story of our CTO’s weeklies? Well, as a co-founder he had to answer a lot of product-market fit questions during the spend of the last decade. So it’s not a surprise that the methodology came natural to him. And as crazy as it might sound, it’s really reasonable when you think about it.
The product-market fit simply means that you have found the market for your product and that your product answers the market’s needs. So this mentality can be easily adopted when considering your meetings. Are you having a meeting with the right people and is it useful for them?
But to be honest, the understanding of the whole product-market fit concept is not that viable for the next steps. To make it easy for you, we’ll borrow Sean Ellis’ methodology for creating a survey on the company’s market fit and treat your meeting attendees as customers (makes sense, right?).
So the whole idea is to learn whether the meeting is really necessary or would an email suffice. Sounds simple, right?
Let’s dive in!
Survey for evaluating meetings
Firstly, that’s absolutely not a one-time thing. It should be done regularly, at least once per quarter.
The objective of this survey is to determine how important are the meetings and if they have enough added value so it’s worth to keep them.
Here’s what to ask:
What’s the primary benefit you receive from the meeting – ask attendees why are they even there? To get updated or to evaluate their current work.
How could we improve the meeting – check if they have any idea what more is needed from your meeting.
How would you feel if we no longer had this meeting – this is the question you’re going for. It’s also the only one that’s not an open question. There are three possibilities: very disappointed, somewhat disappointed, not disappointed.
And here’s how to analyze it:
Importance – At least 40% of attendees need to feel “very disappointed” if the meeting got canceled. If no one feels sad about it, cancel it immediately.
Objective – why did you set up the meeting? Are attendees getting the value needed or is it only an informative meeting. If it’s off your plan and people won’t feel disappointed if it got canceled, cancel it immediately.
Improvements – Here’s where it gets complicated. If you’ll get a ton of valuable suggestions on how to improve the meeting, it’s worth to take another shot. But don’t forget to evaluate it again soon.