I love meeting people and talking over ideas, but I find it really disruptive to actually getting things done (ie. building shit). Still, a good meeting can be really eye-opening and inspiring, and even the worst one you can generally learn a little something from.
So I’ve been agreeing to more meetings than usual these days…but as I do this, I’ve found that I’m becoming a lot more strict on the ‘rules’ of the meeting. Here’s my quick list:
1. A tip my friend Chris opened my eyes to awhile back -> Try as much as possible to 'group’ meetings into one day or chunk of time. I haven’t started to use it myself (yet), but I know a lot of people that also use ohours for this sort of thing and love it. This of course only applies to when someone asks me for the meeting…when I’m the one on the asking side (as I often am), I make it clear that my schedule is at their disposal. I’ll do whatever I can to make my schedule fit to yours when I’m the one asking to meet.
2. Only take meetings with a clear goal or purpose. 'Just catching up’ isn’t a meeting, it’s hanging out…which is tons of fun too, but not something you should slot into the middle of a 'getting shit done’ period of the day. I only ask for a meeting with some one when I’ve got a specific goal, question, or purpose in mind…even if it’s as simple as “I want to hear about how you did XYZ”.
As much as possible, I like to take this rule an extra step and actually start each meeting confirming why I requested the meeting and what I’m hoping to get out of the meeting (basically framing the meeting at the start of the meeting)…and in rare cases, I also like to end meetings just reviewing this list once more so that we all know what we did and didn’t cover and where we are with the answers to each thing we wanted to address.
3. Make your intentions and goals clear. If you’re following rule #2, then don’t hide the fact…when you are setting up the meeting, make sure every one involved knows what you want to get out of it. Not only does it make it easier for them to accept (or decline) a meeting, but it helps to keep the meeting on-point and as short as possible (something everyone will appreciate).
The added benefit here is that many times, you can have a deeper/involved, asynchronous conversation via email that addresses much of your need/reason for meeting…this can sometimes save you the meeting entirely, or at the very least, shorten the length/number of things you’ve got to cover in your meeting (or free up time to cover lesser things down your list).
4. Be reasonable with your goals. Just because you’re following rules #2 and #3 doesn’t mean you’re going to get through everything you want…so try to keep the ask down to three or four things TOPS for a given meeting. Anything more, and you’ve really just got to prioritize and try to set up follow-up meetings…or maybe focus on getting them on board as a mentor that you can ask more of?
…these are the rules I’ve basically set for myself and that I try to follow in setting up and requesting my latest set of meetings…what additions/changes do you have?
Perhaps we should we meet and talk them over!? :-)
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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