We spend too much time in inefficient meetings. Often, this is due to a lack of proper meeting culture in companies and managers not providing a meeting guide for their team. We believe every company should implement Meeting Ground Rules for everyone to follow.
If you’re a manager, you should introduce these rules to your team. This ensures everyone in your team can handle meetings effectively. In our article, we present some rules we’ve implemented and consistently recommend in our content.
Why Are Meeting Ground Rules So Important?
Meetings are a significant cost factor in companies, yet they are a crucial part of team collaboration not measured and tracked with appropriate KPIs. As a result, employees might spend half their working hours in meetings without it being noticed.
Typically, most companies lack processes and rules for meetings. This leads to managers scheduling meetings for team members without consultation, or meetings becoming a default communication tool.
These issues can be addressed with a few simple rules. Implementing these rules can greatly enhance meeting productivity and outcomes. Simultaneously, employee satisfaction increases as they have more time for other tasks.
Overview: Our Meeting Ground Rules
Here we have listed all our meeting rules in detail. We look forward to your feedback!
- Document Everything Important
- Keep Meetings as Short as Possible
- Stay on Topic
- Invite Only Essential People
- Cancel Unnecessary Meetings
- Proper Meeting Preparation
- Communicate Key Information Before the Meeting
- Don’t extend meetings
Rule 1: Document Everything Important
A meeting protocol is essential. It should include all decisions made, agenda items discussed, agreements reached, and tasks assigned. After every meeting, take a minute to document it in writing.
Additionally, ensure all team members and possibly other stakeholders have access to the meeting minutes. This keeps everyone in the loop and prevents knowledge gaps.
With ZipDo, multiple participants can automatically access the records through channels, even if they didn’t attend the meeting.
Rule 2: Keep Meetings as Short as Possible
Experiment with shorter meeting durations. Typically, meetings are set for an hour, but often shorter meetings are sufficient. Try scheduling 30 or 40 minutes. If you find you’re progressing faster during the meeting, you can end it early. Of course, meetings can run over, but be careful not to make it a habit.
Rule 3: Stay on Topic
Meetings often become inefficient due to straying off-topic. Avoid lengthy digressions. If new topics arise that aren’t on the agenda, schedule them for the next meeting or arrange a special meeting. Stick strictly to the agenda and discuss only the listed items.
Rule 4: Invite Only Essential People
Meetings tend to happen too often and with too many participants, leading to high opportunity costs, as you’ll see with our Meeting Cost Calculator.
The reason is managers often think certain people should be included to avoid information gaps, or it’s become customary for the whole department to attend. It’s your job as managers to assess who truly adds value to the meeting and who might be better off handling their daily workload.
With our app ZipDo, you can note key points of the meeting in the channel, giving all members automatic access to these notes. This ensures everyone is informed about the decisions.
Rule 5: Cancel Unnecessary Meetings
Especially for recurring meetings in your calendar, consider if they’re really necessary, or if you can reduce the number of participants or perhaps the frequency. Most meetings are just for information sharing, but there are better alternatives.
For example, try asynchronous communication via Slack or Microsoft Teams for straightforward information. For more complex information, short videos can be effective. The fewer meetings, the better.
Rule 6: Proper Meeting Preparation
Inefficient meetings often result from participants being unprepared. Allocate enough time before meetings for everyone to prepare. We recommend a collaborative meeting agenda, like the one in our app ZipDo. By allowing everyone to contribute to the agenda, you ensure active engagement with the meeting.
Rule 7: Communicate Key Information Before the Meeting
Another key element for efficient meeting preparation is to provide all participants with all necessary information well before the meeting. From our experience, it’s best if the information is made available to all participants 1-2 days before the meeting. We rely on a central element of the meeting process, the collaborative meeting agenda.
When relevant information is distributed before the meeting, it saves time during the meetings, as the mere dissemination of information is already completed, making the meetings more efficient.
Rule 8: Don’t extend Meetings
Meetings are unfortunately often overrun. There should be a written rule in your company stating that meetings should not typically go over time. Set a fixed timeframe and adhere to it. Be bold and address it if meetings drag on too long, and defend your time at all costs. If certain meetings, like weekly team meetings, consistently overrun, question the meeting’s structure and look for alternative methods.
Our Meeting Ground Rules are a good starting point for making your meetings more efficient. Feel free to add more rules or modify existing ones, as this can vary depending on the team or company. Additionally, you should introduce clear processes for your meeting agendas and meeting notes. Also, consider looking at how we organize our meeting notes.