According to the latest statistics, American businesses conduct 11 million meetings on a daily basis. This number can soar up to a staggering 55 million meetings every week and 220 million every month. What is even worse is that around half of these meetings are non productive meetings and cost American businesses more than 37 billion dollars annually. This makes meetings the biggest productivity killers at work. In such a situation, how can entrepreneurs and startups prevent their precious time, money, and other valuable resources from going down the drain? In this article, top entrepreneurs confide in us their secrets, which will surely help you in conducting productive meetings.
Expert Advice On Conducting Productive Meetings
1. Steve Jobs: Keep It Short
One of the greatest innovators and visionaries of our time, Steve Jobs has a completely different approach when it comes to meetings. He loves simplicity. Even when conducting meetings, Steve Jobs prefers short, productive meetings with fewer participants. When President Barack Obama asked him to attend a meeting of tech darling, he turned down the offer only because the guest list was very long.
For him, too many minds in a single room really do spoil the broth. His words reflect his thought process as well, “That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
2. Bill Gates: Use Technology
Bill Gates, the founder and former CEO of Microsoft, considers technology a messiah. He suggests that you should leverage digital tools, such as an online task management software or collaboration tools, to make your life easier. Under his leadership, meetings at Microsoft make full use of the most cutting-edge technology.
Video meetings are quite the norm as most team members are spread across different geographical zones. Microsoft was also working on developing a feature rich meeting room app. Although, it did not see the light of the day, but Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft, picked up from where Bill Gates left off.
3. Elon Musk: Be Prepared in Advance
CEO of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk wants participants to come well prepared to the meetings. He sets high standards and does not tolerate any partaker who comes without ample groundwork. He makes it a mission to examine, scrutinize, and ask follow up question. If you fail to answer, consider yourself in hot waters. Young entrepreneurs can follow in his wake and make meetings more effective.
4. Jeff Bezos: Apply the Two Pizza Rule
When it comes to meetings, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sticks to his two-pizza rule. He suggests that you should not invite more people to a meeting then you can feed with two pizzas. In simple terms, the number of meeting participants should not exceed eight.Amazon CEO shares how he runs meetings at Code Conference in California when he said, “I make sure that all my meetings don’t have tight agendas. Tight agendas assume you go where you are going, and thinking where you are going is a lack of humility that does not let you invent.” He further added, “I like to wander. I like to go down blind alleys.”
5. Larry Page: Don’t Wait For Meetings to Take Decisions
CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, takes a completely different approach when it comes to meetings. In one of his emails, he shared a tip asserting that one should “designate a decision maker for every meeting.” to prevent any chaos. He further added, “No decision should ever wait for a meeting. If a meeting absolutely has to happen before a decision should be made, then the meeting should be scheduled immediately.”
6. Richard Branson: Make It Interactive and Stand Up
According to statistics, a whopping 73% of people indulge themselves in things other than the agenda of the meeting, during get-togethers. Richard Branson knows that. To prevent this, he usually conducts stand up meetings with his employees. He tries to make them as interactive and engaging as possible. Richard Branson wants meeting participants to make notes and do not rely solely on PowerPoint presentations. He prefers using visuals because 90% of information transmitted to our brain is visual.
7. Oprah Winfrey: Use Emails Instead of Meetings
One of the most powerful women in the world, Oprah Winfrey is a famous TV talk show host. She is also one of the busiest entrepreneurs out there. Hence, she cannot afford to waste time on useless meetings. In one of her interviews for Fast Company, she stated, “I really, really, really try to avoid meetings” But how does she communicate with her employees then? Oprah Winfrey wants her employees to send her detailed emails instead of attending meetings. She understands the value of time and hates those who squander it.
8. Sheryl Sandberg: Stick With a Strict Agenda
The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg always keeps a notebook with her to note down key points from every meeting and the action plan along with agendas for them. Fast Company reported that she crosses each agenda one by one and once every agenda is discussed, she tears the page apart. The best thing about her meetings is that “if every item is done in 10 minutes into an hour-long meeting, the meeting is over.”
Due to this, she became the most sought-after employee by big tech giants. Mark Zuckerberg offered her the post of COO Facebook. Sheryl Sandberg left Google and accepted the offer to join Facebook as COO. More importantly, she played a vital role in boosting revenues from Facebook Advertisements.
With the number of meetings taking place on a daily basis, it is important that most of these meetings end with a fitting outcome. If that does not happen, these meetings can become a nuisance and may lead your business to disaster. To conduct productive meetings, you should follow the best advice from these business leaders. Have an agenda for each meeting, make the most of technology, keep meetings short and only invite 5-8 participants to conduct productive conventions.