The Secret to Making Meetings Useful? More Discussions and Fewer Presentations
Ask your team to identify their biggest productivity killer and inevitably two issues will rise to the top of the list: managing their inboxes and their meeting schedules.
I’ll tackle the former in a future post. For now, I’d like to focus on increasing the value of meetings by sharing a practice our team has implemented to great effect.
At LinkedIn, we have essentially eliminated the presentation. In lieu of that, we ask that materials that would typically have been presented during a meeting be sent out to participants at least 24 hours in advance so people can familiarize themselves with the content.
Bear in mind: Just because the material has been sent doesn’t mean it will be read. Taking a page out of Jeff Bezo’s book, we begin each meeting by providing attendees roughly 5-10 minutes to read through the deck. If people have already read it, this gives them an opportunity to refresh their memory, identify areas they’d like to go deeper on, or just catch up on email.
If the idea of kicking off a meeting with up to 10 minutes of silence strikes you as odd, you’re not alone. The first time I read about this practice it immediately conjured up images of a library or study hall, two of the last forums I would equate with meeting productivity. However, after the first few times you try it, not only won’t it be awkward—it will be welcome. This is particularly true when meetings end early with participants agreeing it was time well spent.