Join Drew Bridewell for an in-depth discussion in this video Redesigning your meetings, part of Practical UX Weekly (2017).
- Do you love meetings or do you despise them? Would you say your meetings are usually successful, or maybe inefficient? Have you ever thought, what if my meetings could be better? I believe they can be, and in this episode, I'm going to share some tips, tricks and best practices for getting the most out of the one thing you can't always avoid, meetings. When you first join a new team or new company, it's likely that the team functions in many different ways. There could be many assumptions about how you should and shouldn't behave in meetings.
So what does a good meeting look like? It starts with a shared level of expectations for the group of people attending. This shared level of expectations consists of knowing what the purpose is for each meeting you need to have. You can define whether or not you need a meeting by seeing actual results from having one. You could do this by asking yourself and your team if they find value in a particular meeting and why. It's a good start to question, what did I get out of this meeting? Did it add value to my role, and did I add value for my teammates? If the answer is no for a consistent period of time, then I'd recommend bringing up this feedback with your teammates so they can understand your perspective.
For every bad meeting where you don't enjoy what you're doing, it can affect the productivity of the entire organization. The last thing we want is for bad meeting behaviors to become normal. Now, I want to dig into a variety of meetings we have and why we have them for any given project. We have kickoff and onboarding meetings. These are used to get your team inspired and align on the goals of the project. These meetings require a lot of engagement and enthusiasm, as these as the meetings that set the tone of the project and help all parties feel like they're finally starting on something.
Without these types of meetings, you can alienate your team. Then there are sync or update type of meetings. These can be similar to a daily standup where you get a quick glimpse of what is happening, so you have a fast alignment on microtasks. These sync meetings are short and brief. They should be five to 15 minutes long, depending on how big your team is. We also have design critiques and reviews, which are used to summarize work, sell ideas, and get broader exposure on the progress of designs.
They're also used to show engineer demos of all the work they've accomplished in their spread. These are essential, so you can have milestones to shoot for, as well as a chance to get your work seen across the organization. Another type of meeting is a horizontal strategic meeting. These are not for your immediate team, but are used to leverage other teams' research, knowledge, and existing work. They're also used to help build the relationships with other groups outside of your immediate team and to broaden your perspective.
At LinkedIn, we have many different services and experiences, so for us, horizontal meetings help us get exposure to new ideas and initiatives that are happening across the entire organization. The final type of meeting I want to call out is a summary meeting. These meetings are where you reflect on a project or need to share out something important to the group. In this case, you need to make sure your audience knows the context of the meeting and why they should attend. When you sit and reflect and look through all the meetings you have today, think about how efficient your meetings are.
How might you do that? Start by observing the behaviors of each meeting. What is working well and is not working? Is everyone participating? If not, consider why. Then you can start iterating and trying new things to get your team on track. You can try mixing up your rules of engagement for each meeting, or even assign each member of the team an action item to have prepared for the next meeting. I've also seen rules where everyone on the team has to talk at least once before the meeting ends.
Yes, that seems a bit harsh, but it helps the team stay encouraged to participate. Let's jump back into meeting best practices. Here are a few things that will help you get the most out of them. Meetings can be prevent work from getting done, so rationalize why you have to have the meeting. Ask yourself, can we do this over Slack or a quick conversation instead? We need meeting to collaborate, so have a plan for that collaboration. Consider the frequency of your meetings and how long they are.
Try shortening your one-hour meanings to 45- or 30-minute meetings and see if you can still get what you need out of them. Design your meetings with restraint. Too many action items make it difficult to accomplish the most important ones. If you're constantly getting double booked, prioritize attending the meetings that have the most impact. Now I want to share my key takeaways when I think of the word meetings. Here are some action items you can apply immediately. Define what success would look like for each meeting.
This could end up being your agenda. If you're not the host of the meeting, then ask the host to add a note about what success would look like for this meeting. Schedule time in between each of your meetings so you can collect your thoughts, get a drink or use the restroom. Set meeting expectations with your teams. If you and your team collectively agree not to use your phone or computer during a meeting, then don't do it. Define what you need out of this meeting. I need X so I can complete this task.
Don't overbook yourself. Too many meetings will drive you cuckoo. If you'd like to continue the conversation or have specific questions about meetings, then I'd love to discuss some with you. Find me on Instagram at abridewell, or tweet at me at abridewell. I'm also vavailable on Facebook at practicalUXweekly, or you can post a question on our Practical UX Weekly LinkedIn group. Thanks for watching, and I look forward to seeing you next time.
To continue the conversation with Drew and other user experience professionals, join Drew's Practical UX: Lessons from the Trenches LinkedIn group.
Make sure to check out the 2019 version of Practical UX Weekly for more tips and tricks.
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