How Apple, Google and The White House Run Better Meetings (And You Can Too)
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If you have ever wanted to pop an escape hatch or teleport to distant worlds just to get out of a meeting, take heart. There are ways to hold a better meeting.
Forward-thinking companies have found creative ways to get their teams together, and their lessons and structure can be easily duplicated in meetings anywhere. These creative methods aren’t just clever for cleverness’s sake: Most of them are science-backed and all of them are grounded in successful experience.
With just a handful of hacks, meetings can be speedier, more productive, and more enjoyable for everyone involved. Here Buffer shares 5 outside-the-box ideas that you can discuss … at your next meeting, I guess.
1. Keep your meetings to 10 attendees or fewer
The 10-person rule at Google, as mentioned in Kristin Gill’s book Think Like Google, is based on a fast-moving, startup culture where work time is precious for each employee. The leaner the invite list, the more time it leaves for the uninvited to forge ahead with other work.
As Gill writes: “Attending meetings is not a badge of honor.”
2. Establish a D.R.I.
Steve Jobs and Apple found their most effective way to end a meeting was to assign responsibility for tasks and decisions. Every task is assigned a D.R.I.—Directly Responsible Individual. Doing so provides public accountability for an individual to ensure that the project or task got done, and it sends clear, organized instructions for the team to follow.
3. Pause for a two-minute silence break
Seems counterintuitive to plan silence into a meeting, doesn’t it? Alexander Kjerulf, author of Happy Hour Is 9 to 5, has found silence to be an ideal way to encourage deep thinking and ideas, right in the midst of a meeting.
The purpose of meetings is not to talk – the purpose of meetings is to arrive at ideas, solutions, plans and decisions.
Since few of us can think deeply while we’re talking, the two-minute silence break gives a chance to mull over a decision, issue, or stalemate.
4. In 5 words or fewer, what’s this meeting about?
American Express vice president Christopher Frank recommends a constraint on the way you think about meetings. At the start of every meeting, ask yourself:
“What exactly are we meeting about?”
Everyone at the meeting gets to answer the question. They can only use five words or fewer in their answer.
This will show you if everyone is on the same page or not and if your meeting topic is focused enough. Are the answers inconsistent or too long? Refocus the meeting and try again.
5. Create a coat check for cell phones
In a fast, efficient meeting, there should be no time to check cell phones, and just in case, many companies take the added step of asking employees to leave their phones at the door. Even the White House is in on the act. In Cabinet meetings, attendees are asked to write their name on sticky notes, place them on their phones, and deposit their phones in a basket.
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