6 steps to getting more from your meetings
Meetings are a necessity for most business operations, especially marketing, where independent campaigns are running simultaneously under the same broad goals. You’ll need to gather your team to brainstorm new ideas, update each other on individual progress, come together for mutual tasks, and follow up after a campaign’s end to review and evaluate what comes next. In an ideal world, every meeting would instantly bring each team member up to speed and give them the resources they need to continue their work.
Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world. Most marketing meetings end up wasting time in at least one dimension, whether that’s by straying off topic, disrupting people from work, hosting too many people, or lacking any actionable conclusion. David Grady explains some of the mechanics in this TED Talk, and in recent years, meetings have come under the microscope of other business researchers, who scrutinize their efficiency.
So how can you make them better?
Tips for Better Marketing Meetings
Get your marketing team members working closer together and more efficiently with these strategies for meetings:
1. Set stricter time limits.
Under the definition of Parkinson’s Law, work tends to swell to fill about as much time as was designated for its completion. In other words, if you set a meeting to last two hours, you’ll find things to talk about for two hours—regardless of how relevant or helpful they are. In contrast, the shorter you set your time limit, the more pressure you’ll feel to actually accomplish what you need to get done (and if you fail, you can always schedule another meeting). Aim for 30-minute meetings, or if you’re particularly daring, 15-minute meetings.
2. Use the right tools.
You won’t always be able to meet with your entire team in person. Some of your meetings will happen on the fly, over chat apps, or through video streaming. In these cases, make sure you have the right communication apps in place to streamline and record your messages. For starters, you’ll need apps that everyone in your company can use easily, with an intuitive interface and compatibility with practically any device. From there, you’ll need to prioritize features based on your unique company needs and goals. To get started with the process, DialMyCalls has a fantastic list of apps for internal communication that can help you generate ideas.
3. Choose someone to lead.
In marketing, everyone has a different role, so it’s easy for conversations to get sidetracked with personal contributions and distracted thoughts. That’s why it’s ideal to have a meeting “leader,” who can help keep the group on task. The leader chooses the invitees, sets the time, keeps track of time throughout the meeting, and guides the group back to the topic of discussion when it wavers.
4. Set an agenda.
Along those same lines, every meeting you host should have a clear agenda, sent out before the meeting takes place. This doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute analysis, but it should at least provide a skeletal framework for what you’re going to talk about. It should also have a list of goals you wish to accomplish by the meeting’s end.
5. Reserve meetings for when they’re necessary.
This is a general tip, but it’s an important one. For some reason, many businesses and supervisors insist on having meetings for almost any reason—and sometimes for no reason at all. While meetings can be productive, having them for the sake of having them doesn’t benefit anybody. Instead, try to hold off on meetings unless they’re truly necessary—such as when you need to make a group decision or keep tabs on progress on a given project.
6. Reduce everything to actionable takeaways.
It’s fine to talk in abstractions and general concepts in your meeting, but by the end of the meeting, everything should be reduced to actionable takeaways. What are your attendees going to do now that they’ve attended? What are your next directives and goals? Who’s going to be responsible for calling the next meeting, if one is necessary?
Enforcing the Rules
You know how these things go. These strategies might sound good in theory, but they might only be followed once or twice before you revert to your old ways. Instead of letting that happen, instil a system of checks and balances; for example, choose only one person to send out meeting invites, and give everyone the power to question the meeting if it breaks any of your protocols. The more you practice, the better you’ll become, and the tighter your marketing team’s communication will be—so it’s well worth the effort of getting the system in place.