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Synopsis

Massachusetts Institute of Technology study showed that because most professionals work on average 45 years, you most likely will spend 22 years in meetings. Unless you take control and make every minute count. Ensure your meetings are productive with our Meeting & Agenda (Part 2) presentation and use it to save hours of work for yourself and colleagues and always reach your goals. For even more slide options, check out our Meeting & Agenda deck.

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Application

Steven G. Rogelberg, the Chancellor's Professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, says that an effective meeting is all about the right agenda, and the right agenda is all about asking the right questions before, during and after the meeting. He suggests the following tactics for achieving this in his article for Harvard Business Review (HBR):

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  • Design questions that are specific and challenging – research shows that difficult, but achievable goals are the most motivating types of goals. "Similarly, agenda questions should be designed to challenge, but not be so outlandish that attendees fail to take them seriously and experience frustration," Rogelberg says.
  • Collaborate to identify what really matters – to identify the right questions, a meeting's leader should first generate potential questions from their vantage point; then ask attendees for input as the agenda is being created. After your own potential meeting questions are defined and the insights from the attendees are collected, carefully reflect on each question's value and strategic importance, and exclude questions that are less important.
  • Privilege the most important questions first – studies show that content at the start of an agenda receives disproportionate amounts of time and attention, regardless of its importance, Rogelberg says. So put your most compelling questions at the start of the meeting. "This will not only assure coverage of key issues; it is also a way of quickly grabbing attendee attention and conveying the value of the meeting. And while it is fine to start a meeting with 5 minutes or so of news and notes, after that concludes, go all in addressing the most challenging, important, and vexing questions," he recommends.
  • Execute on the agenda – when your questions are finalized, distribute the meeting agenda in advance, so the attendees have time to prep for the questions to be addressed in a meeting. Rogelberg also encourages meeting leaders to include the meeting agenda right into the meeting invite so it's easy to locate; then execute on the agenda. Rogelberg says: "The most successful leaders not only consider what should be covered in a meeting, but also how to cover each item."
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Expert advice

We collected quotes from the world business leaders on meetings that provide brilliant, applicable advice:

  • Elon Musk: – "If you are not adding value to a meeting, walk out or drop off the call."
  • Bill Gates: – "You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question."
  • Jason Fried: – "Meetings should be like salt – a spice sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful. Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation."
  • Mark Zuckerberg: – "asks people to send materials in advance so [the team] can use the time for discussion," and "[Facebook teams] try to be clear about [their] goal when [they] sit down for a meeting – are [they] in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?" says the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg.
  • Sundar Pichai: – "[...] I don't know how to be in a meeting and participate and be on email at the same time. I do see some people do it more effectively. I've never quite figured that out."
  • Jeff Bezos: – "[At Amazon], we read [...] memos, silently, during the meeting. It's like a study hall. Everybody sits around the table, and we read silently, for usually about half an hour, however long it takes us to read the document. And then we discuss it."
  • Tim Cook: – "The longer the meeting, the less is accomplished."
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