Book:  HBR Guide to Making Every Meeting Matter

Author:  Harvard Business Review (Multiple Authors)

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:   No Author. (2016). HBR guide to making every meeting matter. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • Always set an agenda ahead of time and be clear about the purpose of the meeting. (pg. 7)

  • Estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic. This serves two purposes. First, it requires you to do the math - to calculate how much time you will need to spend on each topic. Second, it enables team members to either adapt their comments to fit within the allotted time frame or suggest that more time may be needed. (pg. 28)

  • Save at least five minutes to summarize what you learned, articulate what was valuable, commit to what you’re going to do as a result of the meeting, and clarify how you’ll assess the success of your next steps. The sign of a great meeting isn’t the meeting itself - it’s what happens after that meeting. (pg. 40)

 

Other Key Ideas:

  • Your first step when planning an important meeting should be to draft an initial set of goals that articulate your desired outcomes for the meeting. As a starting point, three to five bullet points is more than enough. (pg. 21)

  • As the leader of a meeting, be clear to the group how you will arrive at a decision. (pg. 27)

  • Identify the steps the team should take to complete a discussion or make a decision.  Developing a process increases meeting effectiveness, yet leaders rarely do it. (pg. 28)

  • Identify who is responsible for leading each topic - identifying this person next to the agenda item ensure that anyone who is responsible for leading part of the agenda knows it - and prepares for it - before the meeting (pg. 30)

  • Silence denotes agreement - if individuals in a meeting don’t say anything when given a proposal or plan, they’re voting “yes” for it.  Silence doesn’t mean “I’m not voting” or “I’ll weight in later.” It means “I’m completely on board with what’s being discussed.” (pg. 55)

  • It’s rare that someone in the meeting takes the time to summarize decisions and clarify commitment at the end. This usually only takes 60 seconds but can save hours in misunderstanding and unnecessary future meetings. (pgl 104)

  • To maintain the momentum of any project, nail down agreed-upon next steps, firm timelines, and individuals responsibilities, and then follow up often. (pg. 117)

  • Recap what was decided in the meeting, who is accountable for following through, when implementation will occur, and how it will be communicated.  You want every attendee to leave the meeting with the same understanding of what was agreed on so there’s little chance of anyone reopening the issues later.  Document action items - including who is responsible, when things should happen, and how status will be reported back to the group. (pg. 120)

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