We’ve all experienced those jam-packed calendars filled with back-to-back meetings, leaving little time for actual work or strategic thinking.
It is way too easy to schedule a time to talk online. Without any travel time, the allure of back-to-back meetings is overwhelming. And while back-to-back meetings are efficient, they’re not great for us mentally – and it’s generally not good meeting practice. It’s time to stop the madness and reduce the number of meetings you need and improve the meetings you are having.
Expert strategies to combat meeting overload
The curation of meetings is crucial in removing unnecessary meetings from the calendar. An easy rule of thumb:
“Stick to the facts online. Save the complicated, emotional stuff for a higher bandwidth channel.” – Peter Hilton
Techniques for deciding which meetings to keep
Additional techniques you can use to determine which meetings are essential and combat meeting overload:
- No agenda? No meeting! – Invitations are not obligations. Just because someone invites you to a meeting does not mean you have to attend. If the meeting invitation does not include a clear purpose or an agenda, that is a good reason to decline the invitation or ask for more information.
- Try a “meeting fast” – Like a “food fast,” start by removing all meetings from your calendar for a certain period. Then, add back only the essential meetings.
- Meeting audit/rating – Ask your meeting participants to rate the meeting using various methods: polling, fist of five, survey, etc.
- Record meetings – Many meetings have too many participants – or not every participant can join. In those instances, record the session and allow those unable to attend to watch it later on their own time.
- Convince people to join – Instead of assuming that people will join your meeting, send out the invitation and convince people to join. Give people a reason to be there and prepared.
- Create an energy calendar – Color-code your meetings based on how they make you feel: Red means the meeting takes energy away from you. Green means the meeting gives you energy. And yellow is neutral. Then take action on all of the red meetings: decline or delegate.
Asynchronous alternatives to meeting overload
Improving asynchronous communication means fewer interruptions and more control over our workday. It also gives people time to process and reply to information instead of going with knee-jerk decisions that can often be made in time-boxed meetings.
The ratio of asynchronous versus synchronous work differs for every company. The critical question is: what do we NEED to discuss online? And what can be done asynchronously?
- For presentations or webinars, consider recording a video and sending it for participants to watch before the meeting starts.
- Instead of brainstorming together on a call, consider posting ideas to an online whiteboard before the call to give everyone a chance to think on their own time.
- Product walk-throughs can be recorded to allow everyone to view on their own time. Questions and discussions can be addressed synchronously.
- Team/status updates can be recorded or done via chat communication tools.
- Town halls (or all-hands meetings) can be converted into podcasts or video recordings.
- Even decision-making can be done asynchronously!
The fabulous Miro, a visual online workspace, has sponsored this podcast episode. Visit miro.com/superpowers to get your three free whiteboards today.
Miro is a collaborative online workspace where you can visualize every idea, project, or workflow with the help of ready-made templates and tools. It’s built for teams to feel like they’re sitting side-by-side, even working in different places.