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[Guest Post] 6 Tips for Productive Meetings (That Don’t Suck)

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Michael Solomon, Co-Founder of 10x Management

There is nothing more that drains productivity and motivation faster than a long, unproductive meeting. Conversely, effective meetings can leave you with clear direction and an energized feeling about the project at hand.

As the Co-Founder of 10x Management, I’ve worked side by side with some of the world’s most talented freelance programmers, designers and data scientists. During that time, I’ve come to understand a simple truth:

Productive People Require Long Periods Of Focused Work to Optimize Productivity

While this is a simple observation, I’m amazed how many of our greatest tech companies continue to waste thousands of hours of their most talented people’s time in pointless meetings. The average American employee spends 62 hours a month in meetings, half of which are complete wastes of time, according to Altassian [infographic]. Not to mention the $37 billion salary cost of unnecessary meetings for U.S. businesses.

While I wouldn’t recommend getting rid of all meetings, as some are crucial for planning, collaboration, alignment, etc. At 10x we recommend having fewer meetings and if you do have a meeting ensure you have it for the right reasons. Below I’ll discuss why to have meetings as well as offer some tips to implement successful meetings.

In my experience working with the brightest freelance tech teams, there are only a few reasons to have a meeting and they all have to do with gaining input and coming to agreement on the best solution.

Reasons to have a meeting:

1) Agree on WHAT the goals and objectives are and WHAT we’re building

2) Agree on HOW we are going to build it and HOW long it will take

3) Agree on WHO does what to get it built

4) Brainstorming sessions: When the collective intelligence can beat the individual.

Now that you understand the main reasons to have a meeting, let’s talk about some known and lesser known tips for having successful meetings.

Tips to Implement Successful Meetings:

Tip 1: Get Out of the Conference Room

Some meetings require a level of privacy, but you might be surprised where you can start holding them if you use your imagination. Consider meeting outdoors, fresh air stimulates the mind. Other good spots could be at someone’s desk, at a local coffee shop, make it a walking meeting, etc. Break out of the typical conference room setting and you might notice people are more engaged and more likely to open up and be themselves.

Tip 2: Send the Meeting Agenda in Advance

People benefit greatly by having a sense of what’s to come. By sending the agenda 24 hours in advance you give people a chance to prepare and make the most out of your time together.

Tip 3: Start With the End In Mind

At the beginning of any meeting, make the objective for coming together very clear. Usually one sentence rather than a lengthy agenda will suffice. For example say something like, “At the end of this meeting we will decide… .” Or, “We are here to generate and evaluate options for….”  Start your meeting with a clear objective and it will greatly increase the likelihood of achieving it.

Tip 4: Ditch Your Chairs

Wherever you hold your next team get together try ditching the chairs and have everyone (who is able) stand up. Since your team doesn’t have the comfort of a chair, attendees might find themselves getting to the point faster, chit-chatting less, and get the meeting over with sooner. Plus it’s healthier for everyone involved.

Tip 5: Use An “Everyone Plays” Mentality

Assign relevant roles, topics or updates that each participant (or most) can share with the group. With participants taking more of an active role, they are much more likely to pay attention and also feel empowered by the responsibility.

Tip 6: Have a Clear Agreement on Next Steps

Before you end your meetings make sure you recap any immediate actions and assign them to the appropriate owners. The worst thing that can happen is nobody follows up and then you have another meeting to talk about what you already discussed.

There you have it. My advice: Have fewer meetings and when you do have them make them count. Remember that productive meetings focus on the work that needs to be done; they leverage the brains and unique personalities of your team, while working towards short and long-term outcomes.

About Michael Solomon:

Michael Solomon is an established entrepreneur with a strong desire to help people and a commitment to making a difference. The four organizations he’s helped found include Brick Wall Management, 10x Management, Musician’s On Call (non-profit) and The Kristen Ann Carr Fund (non-profit). In 2012, Michael co-founded 10x Management with Rishon Blumberg. 10x is the leading resource for companies looking to hire world-class freelance tech talent (developers, data scientists, and designers). Regarded as the first talent agency for tech professionals, 10x has carved out its place in the tech industry as a trusted resource for companies seeking the best and most coveted freelance tech experts.

You can follow Michael on Huffington Post or 10x Magnified Blog.

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