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How to make the most out of meetings

How to make the most out of meetings

Fab Giovanetti

Once upon a time, all I did was coach people. I did it from home, sometimes putting makeup on, sometimes winging it, sometimes replying to my emails in my pyjamas. Meetings were rare and sporadic. AH, the joys of being self-employed.

Now things have changed and I have a lot of people to meet (whether it’s online or offline. We have a lot of collaborations to work on, ideas to bounce off projects to kick off – which can take up a lot of time.

Whether you are looking to streamline your meetings or your Zoom calls, it’s important to optimise the time you spend with other people and stick to a specific schedule.

The number of annual meeting minutes on Zoom is now over 3.3 trillion. I noticed that especially when organising Zoom calls from home, a 30-minute appointment could stretch to a 1.30h debate – which would definitely not benefit the rest of my working day. 

Pick your meeting days

Things change depending on my schedule, but I still pick days for ‘meetings’ and ‘content creation’, so that I can have 1-2 of pure creative bliss. Something really important when creating a meeting schedule is to calculate the necessary work ahead of time so you can come to the meeting prepared.

Do everything on your end to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly, and you have all the information you need for a quick and effective follow up. Because 80% of the outcome comes from a follow-up.

Set time limits at the outset

Have you ever had a meeting run on for much longer than you originally anticipated? As I mentioned, my 1.30h debates thought me a lot about that. Usually, the best way to create boundaries is to set them straight away.

Instead of scheduling a meeting for 2:30 pm, schedule it for 2:30-3:00 pm. Set expectations for the person and make sure you specify that the meeting will last 30, 45, 60 minutes.

Have a goal, a purpose, a reason

Best time-saving tip? Know the reason WHY you set the meeting in the first place. I tend to quickly discard meetings set up to ‘catch up’ or ‘talk about potential opportunities’. Without a clear outcome or reason, meetings tend to go nowhere.

Before taking time out of my schedule I want to make sure either of the parties has a clear idea of a few ways of working together, helping each other, introducing respective projects or collaborating.

It may sound a bit forced to some, but I find that having a clear purpose keeps things tighter and makes meetings much more effective.

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Be a savvy planner

This point covers two important aspects of meetings: you want to make sure you factor in the travelling time of your meetings, as well as making sure you plan your meetings so that you can make the most of your travel time.

If you are only focusing on online meetings, then create “virtual travel time” to have conscious breaks in between meetings.

Finally, to make the most out of your meeting experience, be sure to come to the meeting prepared. Have read and researched the material, be aware of the goals of the meeting and have a firm understanding of what you hope to gain from it. Come with questions and be an active participant.

The more you do foster an effective and valuable meeting, the more likely it is that others will see you as a leader and resourceful individual.

Looking for more help with making the most of your time? Check out our Built to Scale accelerator, a 4-week program to help you set up powerful systems for your business.