Productive, timely meetings

Starting and finishing on time

We respect each other’s time and demonstrate this by showing up on time for meetings and finishing on time. A couple of things that help us do this are:

  • Being present 5 minutes early so we can end the meeting 5 minutes earlier as well to leave time for preparing the next meeting.
  • Setting a timer at the beginning of the meeting with the time that was allocated for the meeting in question (e.g. 30 minutes).
  • Making sure that everyone in the meeting is able to see the timer. This helps to remind people how much time we have left in a meeting so they spend their time wisely, otherwise people easily lose track of time.
  • Setting a max. time limit of one hour, preferably even 30 minutes.
  • Selecting a meeting host who is responsible for moderating the meeting or for appointing a moderator.

Intentionally setting time limits

We constrain our meetings to a max. time not because that is when we’ve finished discussing what we wanted to discuss, but because it forces us to do several things:

  • Setting priorities on what needs to be discussed
  • Limiting the number of things to be picked up in the meeting (i.e. define next steps to execute what was discussed, or schedule a new meeting if time is up)

If it's not clear what the next steps of the meeting are within the set time limit, the meeting needs to be delayed and discussed at a later moment. This way we can buy ourselves some time to think about what was discussed. The benefit of this method is that you either get results within the set time limit, or you're forced to schedule a new meeting for another moment.

It’s important to always have at least one day in between scheduling the meeting on the same topic so we can think about what was discussed. If the first meeting on topic X takes place on Monday and we want to schedule a second meeting, the earliest that should be scheduled would be on Wednesday.

Besides setting a time limit for the entire meeting, we should also set a time limit for the topics that will be discussed (e.g. max. 5 minutes per team leader in the Publitas meeting). If something cannot be clarified within the set time limit, it gets a timeout and needs to be discussed again in another meeting.

Preparing meetings

While timely meetings are important, they’re not worth much if the meetings are unproductive. This often happens when we come to meetings unprepared, not having a clear game plan for what we want to discuss and with whom. The main focus of all meetings should be to move something forward or to make a decision.

This is why we expect everyone in the team to know what the meeting is about before they agree to having the meeting, and for the people organizing the meeting to have prepared their questions and discussion points so they can lead the meeting.

Delegating meeting responsibilities

There are three elements of a meeting that should be delegated to different people (so everyone can focus on one thing):

  1. Keeping time. One person should do this by setting up a timer that everyone in the meeting can see, including remote people.
  2. Screen sharing. This can be delegated to the person who is speaking and wants to share his/her screen with the rest of the people in the meeting.
  3. Taking notes. One person should do this during the meeting and share them with the team immediately after the meeting has ended. Follow up points for the meetings should be SMART.