Ask Everyone to Come Prepared to Meetings, Including Yourself
Meetings are much more productive when everyone comes prepared.
Rather than wade into a topic or decision with only the context of the last meeting, good leaders treat every meeting as an opportunity to dive deep and sink their teeth into the issues that are most important to discuss.
They dispense with the information sharing and other context setting before the meeting by asking everyone to review materials prior to gathering. This makes meetings twice as productive.
Just about all leaders know this, but few act on it.
Leaders who design meetings in advance and ask team members to read or think about issues prior to the meeting are exceedingly rare. The busy schedules leaders keep often prevent them from planning ahead and putting together the documents and issues that others should review before meetings. This is a big and costly miss.
Meetings are expensive. Take a crack at adding up the travel and hourly compensation costs of any meeting and you’ll see that they are a huge investment.
Simply updating everyone on a topic during the meeting wastes precious time. When teams don’t get to discuss the host of issues they need to because of this, team productivity and effectiveness suffer.
Understanding the issues well enough to reach thoughtful conclusions in the span of a single meeting requires planning. Too much information overwhelms team members and is impractical. Any time a meeting requires hours of prep time, it is an indication that a single meeting is not sufficient. Spending an hour or less to prepare for a meeting is both reasonable and necessary. Those who prepare, including the leader, can now be much more powerful contributors to every discussion.
In the words of Alexander Graham Bell, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” It is the key to productive meetings, too.