☝ That’s the default reply when anyone schedules a meeting.
Why? Because in almost all cases, they’re a time suck. And as companies get bigger and more complex, there’s a tendency to rely on meetings as a means of increasing communication and transparency. But in my opinion, you can and should avoid calling a meeting 98% of the time.
Unfortunately, once your team grows past a certain size, meetings have a way of creeping into the culture. And once they’re in, they’re impossible to get rid of. Meetings create bureaucratic, slow-moving, slow-thinking organizations.
And for a hypergrowth company like Drift, that’s deadly.
Just how expensive are your meetings? This episode of Operations explains why you should think about “renewing meetings” the same way you think about renewing software 👇
What’s more is that companies with an ingrained culture of meetings attract employees that – no other way to put it – love to meet. And those people over time end up having a louder voice in the company because they’re running the meetings and setting the agenda. But it’s the people closest to the customer who should be setting the agenda for the whole company.
So when you are thinking of calling a meeting, question whether or not you and the people you plan to involve can do without it. And as an invitee, you should feel empowered to push back if you don’t think it’s a good use of your time. Frankly, take command of your time and excuse yourself from a meeting if it’s not useful. Go ahead – decline that invite.
For the 2% of the time where a meeting is absolutely necessary, you need to make sure every single participant in that meeting is getting the most out of it. And to do that, we’ve developed our own framework for effective meetings:
The Drift Framework for Effective Meetings
- Focus on a clear agenda. Unless the meeting is a 1:1 with a manager or direct report, you should clearly outline the questions you’re trying to answer and the problems you’re hoping to solve.
- Respect your colleagues. Avoid sidebars and put away laptops and phones. Unless you’re presenting, there’s absolutely no need to have your computer open or your phone out. If the meeting is so slow-moving you feel the need to jump on Slack or work on something else, you probably shouldn’t be in that meeting in the first place.
- Make your meetings small. If you do want to share the information with others, they don’t necessarily need to be in the initial meeting. Put your meeting notes on your intranet for the company to see.
- Either participate or excuse yourself. If you’re not adding value or could spend your time better doing anything else, politely excuse yourself from the meeting…with one exception – company all-hands.
Even the Largest Companies Take a Stand Against Meeting Culture
I realize I’m a bit militant on the subject of no meetings, but I’m not alone. Companies like Atlassian, Amazon, and Google have all implemented policies to minimize the number of meetings held and/or have written frameworks on how to conduct meetings that are actually effective.
Take Atlassian’s guide for running effective meetings. They put together a simple flow chart to get the point across.
Source: Atlassian – Running Effective Meetings: A Guide for Humans.
Jeff Bezos is famously stringent about meetings across Amazon. For him, he keeps them small, bans PowerPoint and other presentations, and each meeting starts in silence – while the group reads through a memo on why the meeting is taking place. And these memos are sometimes six pages. They’re full of actual information – not bullet points, but true narratives on the problem to be solved or the idea to be executed.