Scot Chisholm, Jeff Becker and Mike Scott, collectively, have built their own multi-million-dollar companies from scratch (and sold them), launched successful podcasts, raised/invested tens of millions in venture capital, and built expansive audiences, both for themselves and for the brands they represent. They know a thing or two about productivity.
Based heavily on their ideas, we've put together a template for how to convert internal meetings from a time suck to a catalyst for action. As we make the transition from startup to scale-up, strategies like these will be key top helping us systemise our approach and grow. We'll share more as we go.
PART 1: Say no to unnecessary meetings.
Meetings can be a massive time-suck. If you’re a senior professional, every time you have a meeting with 5 or more peers, it probably costs your company at least $500. A 1-hour meeting with 5 people is a 5-hour meeting.
How often is it worth it?
Here's Naval Ravikant on meetings:
"What you'll find is, most of the times when people schedule a call with you, they don't actually have an agenda. They don't really need to talk to you. It's the easiest way for them to kind of check the box, and get the current problem off their desk, and turn it into a future problem."
Personally I like helping people, and have always believed in "just taking the meeting", but Naval's thoughts have helped me save a lot of time.
These days, when someone invites me to a meeting, I always ask what their agenda is. Why do they want to meet me in particular? I also think about whether there may be a more efficient way for them to solve their problem (ideally that doesn’t involve an hour of my time!).
This has really helped me stay focused, and is also a great way to weed out the people who secretly just want to pitch (often disguised by the word "collaborate").
Part 2: Three Essential Scheduled Meetings.
As just mentioned, many internal meetings could easily be removed. These ones should remain:
Meeting 1: All hands meeting (monthly / quarterly).
- What? Show everyone what they're part of and why it matters.
- Who? Everyone.
- Why? Aligns everyone on direction and purpose.
- How long? 60m (monthly) or 120m (quarterly)
- Where you’re going: long-term vision and goals
- How you’re doing: progress against monthly, quarterly and annual goals
- Why it matters: Give examples of a customer you’ve impacted or a team member who's epitomised your values.
Meeting 2: Top goal meeting (every 2 weeks).
- What? Review progress against annual goals (<4).
- Who? Key people responsible for that goal (<7).
- Why? Identifies where you’re falling behind and need to focus.
- How long? 60m / goal.
- How you're doing: update on progress against each goal.
- If you're behind: What's the plan to get back on track?
- If you're ahead: What have you learned?
- What else can be done?
- What are the risks and how to we prepare?
Meeting 3: 1-to-1 meetings (every 2 weeks).
- What? Show that you're listening, review performance against goals, feedback, what would they do differently?
- Who? Just you and them.
- Why? Track progress, help them be successful, and get ideas.
- How long? 30-60m.
- Circle back: Did you action their previous feedback? If not, why?
- How you're doing: Person provides update on goals.
- If they're behind: What's the plan to get back on track?
- If they're ahead: What do they want to discuss?
- Feedback: What's one thing they would do differently?
PART 3: Maximise Meeting Effectiveness in 3 Phases.
Before the meeting:
- Do the calendar booking if you're the one asking for time.
- Include an agenda (what do you want from the meeting, and how can you help?).
- If it's a follow-up, summarise the previous meeting in the invitation (use cave speak, bullets and numbers, not paragraphs).
During the meeting:
- Allow time to read docs, agenda, and look up who you're meeting.
- Join on time.
- Start with agenda. Is there's anything to add/remove/that’s no longer relevant?
- Practise active listening.
- Co-create actions and next steps before ending the call.
- End on time.
After the meeting:
- Follow up same day with thanks plus summary of actions / next steps.
- Put a follow-up meeting in the calendar so you can hold each other accountable for actions.
- Set calendar reminders so you complete your own actions before the deadline (under-promise and over-deliver).
- If it's your meeting, offer to create reminders for others who committed to actions (leaves nothing to memory, and helps them avoid the embarrassment of not getting it done).
Download our 1-page meeting template here:
Do you know someone who's starting or thinking about starting their own business? Please share this with them, if you think it can help them stay productive. Thanks!
– Featured image by Mohamed Hassan.