People & Teams

How to make your meetings count?

Meetings can be a waste of time. At the same time, as a PM, you do need to have them to create team plans, or communicate product decisions. How to you make the necessary meetings run efficiently?

  • Solutions Architect at Coda.io

    I use specific tools to:

    1. Help my team, especially remote team members, actively participate in meetings,
    2. Ensure there is a clear agenda with expected action items, and
    3. Develop a cadence for answering questions at the end of a team meeting.

    I helped create a template called Gamestorming - A Toolkit for Meetings that contains exercises for brainstorming and making decisions in a team meeting.

    Popular exercises include Post Up, Empathy Map, and SWOT Analysis — they all allow your distributed team members participate in the decision-making process.

    I'd also recommend you look at...

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  • The Team at JAM

    The life of a PM is mage of many meetings. Team meetings, stakeholder meetings, scrum meetings, and Friday happy hour—we could list specific tips for each of them separately.

    Rather than tell you what to do, let's approach this topic by figuring out the following: Why people hate meetings so much and...what you can do about it?

    • Preaching. For many, meetings are just a way for one person to communicate grand plans to the rest. If this was the case thought, an email would suffice. We say people want to know their voice matters and they too can shape the plans being made. Give everyone time to speak.

    • Goal. It needs to be clear what the meeting's intended outcome is— is it a demo, a planning meeting, requirement gathering? Have an agenda and share it beforehand. Consider creating a checklist for an effective meeting.

    • Time. Meetings can feel like a waste real work time. Invite only the people whose input matters for the purpose of the meeting. Otherwise, the ones who have nothing to say will feel out of place, and the meeting will indeed be a waste of their time. Stick to the start and end time and, ideally, keep them short. Keeping yourself on track with tools like Team Meeting, or well, just a regular stopwatch!

    • Disturbance. As Paul Graham explains makers and managers work differently. Makers typically should block slots of creative time in their calendars, and meetings can disturb it. Be aware of your team's calendars and schedule meetings when everyone can make it. Use shared calendars to find the best time for all participants.

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  • Product Manager at Ten Lifestyle Group

    Send an agenda beforehand to all attendees and, where possible, create and send a pre-read. This will ensure all attendees know what to expect beforehand and will save you time at the beginning of the meeting.

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