How to boost decision-making during your meetings
Meetings are the place where we make most of our business decisions. But what do you do when that place is an unproductive one?
Luckily for us all, adopting a few simple strategies can transform both your meetings and the way your team makes decisions.
Plan ahead and prepare the agenda
First thing’s first, if you haven’t planned a meeting well enough, no-one’s going to get much out of it. Make sure all the attendees, know what the meeting’s about, know what’s expected of them, and have reviewed all the material that will be talked about.
If they haven’t done that they might as well not be there.
Preparation is key, but a detailed agenda is equally vital. It needs to include what decisions you’ll be making and how you plan on making them. Will you need a full consensus on an idea, or will the majority win? Will you be taking a vote or a poll? Are you using any tools or apps? The more prepared you are, the less time will be wasted.
Mark Zuckerberg improved the efficiency of meetings at Facebook by doing exactly that. According to his colleague Sheryl Sandberg, he made sure everyone attending any meeting had all the materials they could possibly need beforehand, so the only thing they had left to do was discuss the things that mattered.
Pick the right people (and let them talk!)
There’s a lot to say here, so in the spirit of preventing time-wasting, let’s break it down.
- Don’t just invite everyone / anyone you can think of to a meeting. Only invite people who can give valuable contributions.
- If you want decisions, try to stick with seven people or less. According to the Harvard Business Review book Decide and Deliver: Five Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization every attendee added after the magic number seven reduces the likelihood of making decisions by 10%.
- Don’t let the shy ones be left behind. Encourage different opinions (like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) and create a sense that everyone who contributes will be listened to. That shy, quiet team member might have the best idea.
- Make the meeting less about you, the leader, and create a space where people can discuss. Tesco boss Dave Lewis did this by asking all his 500,000 employees to email him directly with opinions. You may feel like that’s a little extreme, but I bet he got some great ideas.
Make decisions based on facts, not experiences
Basically this means putting analogies and experiences to the side and looking at the hard facts. Instead of asking “how much does this usually cost to make?” he asks, “how much does this actually cost to make?”
By doing this Musk found that his company SpaceX could build a rocket with materials that cost around “two percent of the typical price”. This would not have been achievable if they had simply accepted what rocket materials “usually” cost.
Follow up and analyse
Just because the meeting’s finished doesn’t mean the work is done. When the meeting’s over, don’t just forget about it. Write down everything you decided, all the tasks that need completing and share it with the attendees. Only then can you move on. Solid can help you run effective and easy meetings and get the meeting agenda, tasks & decisions instantly in your mailbox.
But there’s still one final thing you need to do…
Have a think about how it all went went. Was a meeting the best way to make that decision? Would an email, Slack conversation, a poll or simply grabbing a coffee worked better? Richard Branson conducts all his meetings standing-up. Would that have helped? Post-meeting analysis is the only way to learn how to make your next meeting better than your last.
Meetings don’t have to be so unproductive after all.
Visit Wisembly.com to see how our innovate data-driven collaboration web app can help you make the most of your corporate meetings.
— Wisembly UK (@Wisembly_UK) April 12, 2016