Three quarters of us do other work when we’re in meetings, according to statistics published in the Harvard Business Review.
Worse, 90% of meeting attendees daydream whilst there.
Meetings probably eat up more time at work for senior leaders than any other activity, often resulting in a sense of frustration and time-wasted. But, by applying design principles, meetings can become more productive say Rae Ringel and Maya Bernstein, writing for HBR. The authors suggest that all meetings should begin with empathy, asking what the participants would want out of them.
They suggest finding the answers to three key questions.
- Who is going to be in the room and what are their needs?
- Who won’t be in the room but will nevertheless be affected by the meeting and what are their needs?
- In what broader culture and environment are you operating and what are some of the overarching challenges and opportunities?
“Next, set a frame for the meeting. Once you’ve attentively listened and observed, you’ll want to suggest an overarching purpose for the meeting and articulate clear outcomes that will connect to achieving it.”
The next stage is to “creatively design” the meeting. “Once you know the core question to address, and what success might look like, you should create your agenda. People tend to throw agendas together at the last minute, if at all.”
Finally, the authors suggest test-driving the plan, seeing whether it will work in terms of producing the outcomes you and the participants want. “This might be a draft agenda shared with participants. Their responses will help you gain more empathy, frame new questions, get even more creative in your meeting design, and increase your potential for success at the actual gathering.”
Ringel and Bernstein suggest that a design led approach will involve making an investment. But they promise: “You’ll have fewer meetings, and those you do have will be more productive — even sometimes fun.”
Now there’s a thought.