ROM Part 2: How to Maximize Your Return on Meetings

by 

Josh Lowy

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This is Part 2 of a series on helping organizations think differently about their Return on Meetings. You can check out Part 1 right here. In this entry, we'll examine how you can solve the most common, costly problems with meetings and optimize your team's output.

Are you making the most of your meetings? For many modern companies, meetings have become infamous wastes of time. This is unfortunate. In truth, meetings have unparalleled potential to catalyze team collaboration and produce profound results. But they have to be conducted and managed correctly.

Your meetings are an investment. And to optimize your Return on Meetings (ROM), you must focus on the following two factors:

  1. Reducing the cost
  2. Increasing the output

As we discussed in the first part of this series, there are five common pitfalls that most businesses experience in their meetings. Now, let's revisit each of these obstacles and learn how we can transform them into advantages. Here's how you can maximize your ROM:

Believe in the Almighty Agenda

Either come prepared to meetings with an agenda or come prepared to waste valuable time and resources.

There's a good reason why Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg leverages a list-style meeting plan and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos relies on six-page memos. Both agenda styles allow them to align all meeting attendees on important objectives. But that's far from the only advantage. Putting together a pre-planned agenda allows you to tap into some amazing benefits. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Don't know if a meeting is necessary? Putting together an agenda will answer this right away.
  2. Want to instill the importance of efficient meeting preparation? Let your attendees take the lead in planning the agenda.
  3. Do you have trouble keeping meeting attendees aligned on objectives? Distribute the agenda ahead of time.

Agendas are key to keeping your team focused, saving time, and optimizing your meeting inputs and outputs. Regardless of your industry, here are some essential aspects to include:

  • Your meeting objective
  • Context from prior meetings
  • Attendees
  • Notes detailing the discussions taking place
  • Key insights and decisions
  • Next steps
  • Any open questions and their resolutions

If you feel like this is a lot of information, we understand. That's why we put together an awesome template with our friends from Atlassian. It has everything you need to get a head-start on improving your Return on Meetings through your agenda. Check it out here!

Never Underestimate the Need for a Scribe

Would you spend $50,000 on a wedding without paying for a great photographer to capture the event? Of course not! So why would you spend so much time, money, and resources on meetings without capturing key takeaways?

Having a note-taker preserves new insights, which in turn promotes positive results. It also expedites your next meetings by streamlining alignment on what matters. This also applies to your remote team members and those absent from a meeting. Google has a scribe for every meeting for this exact reason.

Here are some simple steps to ensure success when using a scribe for a meeting:

  1. Choose your scribe before the meeting takes place.
  2. Make sure the scribe is not the person running the meeting.
  3. To start, the scribe should focus on capturing the objectives, decisions, insights, and actions. Nothing more.
  4. After the meeting, have your scribe distribute the key takeaways.

Drive Action With Accountability

Your Return on Meetings heavily relies on one question: Who's responsible for what? If you can't answer this every time, you're making your Return on Meetings suffer. Assigning actions and accountability closes the gap between your meeting insights and your team.

These steps serve as the blueprints for transforming your agenda and notes into a positive Return on Meetings. Forgoing them results in ambiguity, which always ends in wasted time and effort playing catch-up later.

So, before ending your meetings, complete these 3 steps:

  1. Review the work that needs to be done. Ensure the actions that need to be taken are clearly captured and defined.
  2. Assign each action item to a team member.
  3. Give everyone a chance to remember and clarify any important points related to these actions.

Share Meeting Insights to Streamline Action

Strive to centralize and share your meeting insights with as much of your team as possible. Transparency is not only key to cultivating a more trusting team environment; it's the secret to better creativity and collaboration.

Out-of-the-box insights and solutions don't have to be sporadic strokes of luck. Cross-pollination is the essence of disruptive solutions. And by giving your team open access to meeting notes, you can systematically generate them.

Making your meeting notes accessible maximizes your Return on Meetings in the following ways:

  1. Your team can be aligned without attending every meeting.
  2. With context in tow, teammates can make much more informed decisions.
  3. You reduce meeting costs each time someone on your team utilizes your meeting notes.

There are several technological tools and platforms available to help you share your meeting notes. Test some out and experiment. Use what allows you to streamline insights into improved teamwork most effectively.

To start with, try out Hugo! Click here to learn how we help teams cut meetings by 40%.

Keep Your Attendee Count Lean

After going through the trouble of searching for, vetting, onboarding, and remunerating them, your team is your greatest investment, regardless of your industry. But just like any investment, what you get out of it depends on how you invest it. So be selective about who you invite to a meeting.

Only keep the attendees that are absolutely required to achieve the objectives on your agenda. Here are some heuristics to help you stay smart and lean during the process:

  • Is the attendee a key decision-maker for the items on the agenda?
  • Does he or she have any information needed to move forward on certain matters?
  • Are their objectives related to the issues that need to be solved?
  • Will they be implementing the decisions that are made?

You've Taken the Notes. Now Take Action.

We hope you've enjoyed this series on how to evaluate (and improve) your Return on Meetings. You're now armed with all the tools and insights you need to turn these obstacles into your advantages.

Together, these five factors cause cascading effects through how your company functions and collaborates. Experiment with each to find the 'sweet spot' that works best for your needs. You've taken enough notes. Now, it's time for you to take action and maximize your Return on Meetings!

For a more in-depth discussion about how you can increase your Return on Meetings, read our whitepaper here. Want an easy way to implement these solutions for your team? Check out The Hugo Way!