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What are your tips to reduce number of meetings and make them more productive?

Poorvi Jhawar Marketplace Partner Feb 11, 2020

This is a 2 part question. 

1. How can we get away with fewer meetings?

2. How can we make them more productive? 

I've got some pointers but would enjoy some tried and tested methods I could use too :) 

3 answers

0 votes

Hi @Poorvi Jhawar ,

I have some things I do to reduce the number of meetings on my calendar. 

  1.  If I am listed as "optional" I don't go; if the meeting really needed my input I'd be listed as "required."
  2. I always have an agenda that lists the goals of the meeting with any I host. I only invite people that are primary stakeholders (The "RAC" of the RACI chart) and send out a meeting summary afterwards to include the "Informed."
  3. If I am invited to a meeting that has no agenda or stated goals I mark myself as "tentative" and ask the host to let me know what my input to the meeting will be and what value the meeting will add. If the answer puts me into the group of the "informed" then I decline it and ask the host to send me a summary.  
  4. Lastly, if I am in a meeting and it either does not seem to add any value or if it goes off the rails I'll ask the host to explain the need for the meeting and help either get us back on track or end it. 

This may seem harsh and arrogant (am I really THAT important that I can't bother to go to a meeting where I'm "optional? Hint: I'm not.)" but in the end it saves time for everyone. 


Dominic Lagger Community Leader Feb 19, 2020

I like thos 4 ways to reduce the number of meetings! :) 

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Poorvi Jhawar Marketplace Partner Feb 19, 2020

Hi @Scott Theus 

To start with I don't think you're being arrogant — if anything you're being mindful of your time and theirs which speaks volumes. 

It's tough when the attendees are going off track and the host has to bring them back to track :P

I like your points! :)

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I agree-- it doesn't seem arrogant to me, just ways of adding clarity to yourself and others of why you're in a certain place at a certain time and need to be there at that moment.

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0 votes
Emily Koch Atlassian Team Feb 13, 2020

One great way I've found to avoid meetings and lessen the time it takes to get things done is by encouraging simultaneous collaboration where possible.

For example, @Kyle Clark might work on documenting a story. Then, when he's ready for review, he'd send over the draft to our team for me to look at it. He'd stay in the document while I reviewed it. With both of us commenting and replying to each other at the same time, it lessens the time we would have spent waiting on responses. We've avoided a lot of meetings that way!

If you do hold meetings, make sure that the meeting has a defined goal, and that as many people who will be involved in reaching that goal are invited. Sometimes, especially for new projects, I might not consider different perspectives on looking at an issue. So, to reduce the number of "meetings that just lead to more meetings" I'll open meeting invites to others who would be interested in the effort, and let others invite more people who are stakeholders.

Finally, during the meeting, make sure that whatever the goal of the meeting is is outright stated, and that the problem that you're looking to address is defined. That way, everyone's on the same page and knows what you're all working toward. 

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions, too! 😃

Poorvi Jhawar Marketplace Partner Feb 19, 2020

Hi @Emily Koch I think your approach is fantastic and quite appropriate for me personally. I think I'm going to take up the simultaneous collaboration approach - this will definitely lessen the no. of meetings and shorten the review period. 

0 votes
Dominic Lagger Community Leader Feb 11, 2020

Hi @Poorvi Jhawar 

I think this question cannot be answered so easily without background knowledge.

First, I would ask you which meetings you would consider as not useful or useless. So we can focus on this meetings. An easy tip for a meeting is always to have a goal. Ask the inviter, what is the goal of that meeting and who are the stakeholer? Do I have to invite all 9 persons or are 3 enough?

The second point is, why do you think it's not useful? Maybe the meeting can really just be cancelled without any loss of information. 
Who do you mean by "them"?
What working method do you use? Scrum? Kanban? Waterfall? 

I'm looking forward to get your answers :) 

Regards, Dominic

Poorvi Jhawar Marketplace Partner Feb 19, 2020

@Dominic Lagger I think I was looking at a very general approach towards this. But I can understand your predicament. :)

Any meeting where we don't meet / step towards our goal is useless for me. Often the meetings include a lot of off-topic discussions which leads to being unproductive for me. 

Sometimes you just need people in the same room to make a decision because the back 'n' forth is more than required. 

Them here are meetings, how do you make sure that every minute of the meeting is productive. 

We use a mixture I believe of scrum and kanban. Hope this helps.

Dominic Lagger Community Leader Feb 19, 2020

Hi @Poorvi Jhawar 

Why do you have to make sure, that every minute of a meeting has to be productive? 

If you work with scrum / kanban, I think you will sometime do a retrospective. So do you think, a retrospective is productive? 

In my team, when I organize a retrospective, I always begin with a short game. Let's say about 10 minutes. In your eyes, not productive at all, because it has nothing to do with the business or the company. BUT: the game loosens the mood and the whole hour becomes more interesting, fun and therefore more productive. 

I totally agree with you. When a meeting is just there to talk about the weekend, it's waste! But to start with some smalltalk can make the meeting more focused afterwards and therefore it's more productive. 

When you struggle with off-topic discussions, probably this could help: 

  • Let the people start with discussions on whatever they want, about 5-10min 
  • Then, use the other time to focus and be more productive. Stop every other discussion afterwoods.



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