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Meetings from Hell to heaven

4 min read
Meetings from Hell to heaven

Why Do we need a process for meetings?

Meetings are very helpful tools for alignment and communications; delivering clarity and across the team, yet it is a time consuming activity that need to be controlled or team productivity will be wasted on silly debates.

In a Harvard Study on 182 Senior Managers, they reported that:

  • 65% Meetings prevented them from completing their own work.
  • 71% Found their meetings to be unproductive and inefficient
  • 64% Said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking

Structure of a Meeting

All meetings should clearly state the following for a hitting a successful meeting:

  • Purpose + attendees
  • Agenda
  • Conclusion

All Meetings should have a purpose! but what about this meeting?

What is the desired outcome?

The organizer needs to ask themselves what is the desired outcome for that meeting is? and base the meeting on getting that outcome accomplished. wether in setting the presentation slides for it, or organizing the talk around that. and clearly stating that desired outcome with participants.

Who should attend that meeting?

Another very important question is to ask yourself "whom would be needed to accomplish or would be affected by such outcome?". for some topics it might not be clear, and thus it really helpful to think about a simple responsibility matrix for project management,like RACI or DACI, as it will guide you into understanding who should attend and who might be better informed on the meeting minutes pre and post meeting. you don't have to follow it religiously in setting up the meeting but rather as a guideline to who needs to be included.

What is "DACI"?

  • D = Driver. The one person responsible for corralling stakeholders, collating all the necessary information and getting a decision made by the agreed date. This may or may not be the project's full-time owner, depending on the decision.
  • A = Approver. The one person who makes the decision.
  • C = Contributors. They have knowledge or expertise that may influence the decision – i.e., they have a voice, but no vote.
  • I = Informed. They are informed of the final decision.

What agenda to mention?

what does these parties involved need to accomplish such outcome

Good meeting Criteria

• Meeting was to the point and information was clearly presented.

• Everyone was engaged and opinions were welcomed.

• Learnt something new that will help me be more effective at my job.

Types of Meetings

There are different types of meetings with different levels or details to be included and people involved.

• Informative Meetings:

These meeting are more like sessions of sharing knowledge and This meeting requires interesting content with a Q&A section at the end to provide interactive discussions, and if it’s more a one way discussion then an email would be sufficient. Looks for the following

  • Convey key messages clearly and memorably
  • Keep the audience attention with interactivity
  • Most importantly the group learning something valuable

• Decision Meetings:

This meetings are made to have parties agree on a certain decision and move forward, look for the following

  • Giving all participants an equal airtime, and getting people heard.
  • Presenting all credible options objectively, and highlighting team’s recommendation
  • Including people most directly affected by the decision
  • Avoiding derailed discussions and and spending too much time getting group consensus
  • And most importantly getting a decision made at the end

• Brainstorming Meetings:

These meetings are made to come up with ideas as a whole group and rather the quantity of the ideas is to be considered as all ideas are not judged and all are equally heard. the organizer needs to highlight the Problem and rather try not to lead the group to a specific solution to be considered what you are looking for

  • There should be abundant time to think alone(either before or at the meeting) and to engage with others
  • Help ideas evolve and build off each other
  • Consider the totality of the ideas from everyone not only front the loudest voices
  • Produce many diverse and non obvious ideas

• Feedback Meetings:

Or known as “review” meetings, this is for stakeholders to understand and give input on work in progress, the idea is not judge the work but rather arrive to the best possible outcome, look for the following:

  • Get everyone aligned on the outcome and what success looks like
  • Honest representation of the current status of work
  • Clearly frames key decisions, open questions, and known concerns

A meeting framework

1- All meetings should have an agenda communicated prior to meetings allocated slot

2- All decision meetings would require that organizer sending the needed documents upfront to make sure everyone involved is well informed on the matter

3- unplanned meetings shouldn't consume more than 20 mins, as it would create confusion and chaos to the attendees

4- Meetings need to follow through the proposed Agenda,

5- Recurring meetings are sometimes lesser valued as these are subject to routine like behavior and thus need a set structure to be followed religiously along with participants feedback taken for further improvements in frequency, structure, duration, or speakers.

6- After meeting feedback is highly needed to adjust and adapt in the future

7- Don't try to accomplish too much in one meeting, or atleast call for a break and then decide after.

8- practice ruthless efficiency with meetings moving through agenda on a timely manner.

9- give people enough time to prepare for the meeting

Maximize contribution

  • Welcome the hard questions and Q&As
  • Manage equal airtime
  • Divert side discussions into the bigger discussion using dot voting techniques
  • Get feedback for the meeting

Meeting conclusion

meetings should end with an conclusion of either one or more of the following options “ so before we break, let’s agree in the next steps”

  • Feedback On the meeting the materials presented
  • Action items and clear assignments
  • Follow Up meeting scheduled (at least tentatively)


Senior Product Manager @Mumzworld,I love educating myself and sharing my knowledge about product management, Design, Data, and Software engineering to create products that empower customers.