NeedToMeet Blog

9 Tips for Killer Meetings


At NeedToMeet, we’re always on the lookout for best practices to schedule meetings more effectively. Where possible, we build these techniques into NeedToMeet, such as when we updated the tool so you can send meeting invites and polls to groups. No more typing people’s names manually, which is an easy way to forget someone.
Here are some of our other favorite tips.
As you schedule
1.Keep it short and snappy. Meetings will expand or contract to the time you schedule for them. The default meeting length in calendar tools like Outlook tends to be 1 hour, but you don’t have to stick to that. Some companies choose to encourage shorter meetings that are 30, 15, or even 10 minutes. You can tweak your calendar settings to default to a shorter time.
2.Choose the best time of day. Meetings first thing in the morning, during lunch, right after lunch, or late on Fridays can be challenging. Watch how star players in your org tend to schedule meetings and follow suit. It can be difficult to get on everyone’s calendar, but you don’t need to squeeze in a meeting at noon just because it’s the only time available. Try another day or week.
3.Add a buffer. Many folks have back-to-back meetings, so consider adding a buffer of 5-10 minutes at the end of your meetings to give everyone a break and time to get to their next meeting. So perhaps your default meeting is 25 or 50 minutes.
4.Include an agenda. People can better prepare for your meeting if they know what it’s about. In the meeting invite, always include at least a 1-sentence description of why you’re meeting. Better yet, list any questions for attendees or decisions that need to be made in the meeting. And if you need them to do homework before the meeting, point them to the material ahead of time.
5.Invite the right people. Some companies try to hold meetings with no more than 10 people. If you tend to meet with the same group of people for a project, create a group to avoid accidentally leaving someone off. If you’re not sure who needs to be there, ask attendees to forward the invite as needed.
During the meeting
6.Reiterate the agenda. Take the first minute or two to remind everyone why you’re meeting and list any decisions that need to be made or questions that need to be answered.
7.Put devices away. Multi-tasking is a myth. You can’t truly focus on a meeting while also writing an email. And it never fails—start typing an email and someone will choose that moment to ask “Hey Amy, what do you think?” As a bonus, if you take notes by hand, you’re much more likely to remember them.
8.Assign owners. When an action item comes up, make sure that a specific person claims it. Too often, people use the royal “we” when suggesting a task. Example: “We should check with procurement on that.” Everyone nods, but it’s often not clear which “we” is responsible. A simple “Brian, will you take that one?” helps ensure that someone does check with procurement.
9.Send out meeting notes. At minimum, follow up with a list of any open questions and action items. Include an owner for every action item. And propose a due date if you didn’t discuss that in the meeting.

Email tag costs $1,750 per employee each year

Email tag wastes 75 minutes a week.

No one likes to play email tag. You know, those quick emails you send back and forth to schedule a meeting with someone whose calendar you can’t see. The conversation often goes something like this:

This process can take 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week, and can sometimes span several days. That’s around 75 minutes a week (or 65 hours a year) that you spend scheduling meetings, which comes out to an average of $1,750 per employee per year.
Now you can schedule meetings directly within Outlook.
Using the Outlook add-in available with NeedToMeet Premium, you can see who’s available when—right within Outlook. So you can schedule meetings with external folks in less than 5 minutes (per our user tests). That’s nearly 6 times faster than passing emails back and forth. It’s also 3 times faster than other online tools that don’t let you sync and view calendars for external contacts in Outlook.

Send a link to your public calendar.

If your external colleagues don’t have the NeedToMeet add-in installed (or aren’t on Outlook), you can still send them a link to your online calendar and let them pick a time that works.

Try it now.

NeedToMeet Premium is only $19/user per year. We also offer a 14-day free trial (no credit card required). Try it and then pop over to our ideas forum to share any feedback. We’d love to hear what you think!
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