Boring meetings got you down? 3 examples of a better way – 2 min read

In 30 years, I have gone to countless meetings that started out well but over weeks and months turned into time wasters.  Then I would get  drawn into lengthy post meeting email discussions that should have been covered in the meeting.  Has this ever happened to you?

Also, why do we prefer electronic communications as ways to convey complex issues?  I think it is because we mistakenly value efficiency over effectiveness more often than we should.

Something to think about; Human beings have been on this planet for about 200,000 years and have been communicating verbally for about half that time, the written word has been around for a few thousand years and Excel and email for a few decades.  However, most of us prefer to use the latter forms of communication more often because they are more efficient.  Sadly, they are not more effective and does not use the senses that we have been honing for millennia.

The engineers in the tech industry seem to do this very well as part of scrum. They meet every morning for a few minutes and go around the group and give a quick update. This is lauded in the industry but is not often carried over to the other sides of the business.  It can actually save hours (days?) of back and forth for issues that could have easily have been brought up and possibly resolved at the beginning of the day in a daily huddle or scrum.

The prevailing wisdom is that it is better to have more people in fewer meetings than to have more meetings with fewer people. Sometimes it is better to stack them up on one day so the rest of the week one can focus on getting the job done.

For those who do not do this today, here is a quick how-to example for running a daily huddle as well as for customer and employee feedback meetings for those who wish to delve further on.

Daily Huddle

  1. Set an unusual timeframe such as 8:37 – 8:52am or similar .  This gets folks there on time more consistently. Weird but it works.
  2. Require everyone to make it no matter where they are. If one person is on the phone everyone should dial in separately to keep the medium level for all.
  3. Do it every working day for 5 to 15 minutes.  Use a timer so you do not run over.
  4. Have people give the following information (and nothing more):
  • What’s up – (i.e., what is going in your world today. Ask for specifics – dates, names, times, etc.)
  • Daily metric update – (i.e., how did you do meeting your goals yesterday)
  • Where are you stuck?

IMPORTANT – Many of these huddles die on the vine after a few weeks or so because the info given is too general.  It is the specific details (dates, times, names, etc.) that you want to uncover in these meetings that spark action and fuller understanding.  Also, take off line any lengthy items.

Please note that this meeting’s exchange is based upon the company’s and individual’s longer term goals (quarterly and/or annual) broken down to the individual and a daily (possibly weekly) timeframe.  This makes it super simple to see how everyone is doing and gives plenty of heads up if something is not going to meet deadline so everyone can adjust and get back on track.  Also, if there is an issue that comes up consistently, the leader can spot the trend and deal with it immediately.

Employee feedback meetings

This one is super easy.  Every week or more often, the managers should meet with an individual or small group in the team and ask them the three questions below.  The goal is to record this info and look for trends and patterns over time.

  1. What should we STOP doing?
  2. What should we START doing?
  3. What should we KEEP doing?

These three simple questions will spark further conversation about how the individuals are feeling, can help “clean out” some legacy items that no longer make sense to keep doing as well as spark new ideas that could lead to spectacular growth initiatives yet to be discovered as well as many other benefits.

Better to dig deep and personal items should also be discussed if they come up.

Customer Feedback meetings

Every leader of companies that grow consistently are engaging in market-facing activities the majority of the time so they can keep a pulse on the market and discover where their next big growth initiative is coming from. Here are four simple questions to ask:

  1. How are you doing?  (What are their priorities in the upcoming year and revenue projections are key things to find out.)
  2. What is happening in your industry/neighborhood?  (This can give you insight into industry trends and possibly identify other potential customers.)
  3. What are you hearing from competitors?  (It is best to learn about competitors from your customers since I am sure your competition is calling on them.  You can also remind them why you are still the better choice.)
  4. How are we doing?  (Important question: make sure to ask this last so you give them time to talk about themselves first!  That is almost always everyone’s favorite subject anyway!)

This info should be shared each week at management meetings to compare notes.

IMPORTANT: Approximately 90% of these meetings will reveal nothing of value but be patient as you will find valuable nuggets over time that can make a huge difference when done consistently.

There are other meetings such as the weekly, quarterly and annual planning meetings that have some great formats as well.  Please let me know if you would like some other suggestions in these areas.

Be exceptional!  (

P.S.  Please leave a comment and let me know how I can improve these types of posts.

Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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