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The Complete Entrepreneur – EP02: Making Meetings Worth the Time


Listening to the Complete Entrepreneur on Startup Club today, we have Amber help us with those pesky they call meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings, uh, Startup Club today has almost a million members. If you’re not a member of Startup Club, please click on that little greenhouse above and follow us.

Hello, Amber. Welcome to the. I know that you’re going to deliver a great show like you did last week. Uh, Michael Gilmore is not available this week. He’s not, and he won’t be available next week. And Amber Hacker has agreed to take over for us to help us figure out how do you create great meetings. And, uh, if you’re in the audience and you love the topic, [00:01:00] please feel free to share the room that, that icon on the bottom.

I’m gonna do it right now. The second icon share the room on clubhouse and it will go out to everyone on clubhouse. So I just shared the room and if you would like to do so as well, that would be great. Uh, Michele, I’m gonna pass it to you first before, uh, we bring Amber up here to run the show. All right.

Excellent. So we’re so happy to have Amber here as our special guest. Um, she talked last week as well. About really cool hacks for productivity. So if you miss that, you can go to and check out the recording as well as see a blog post. Um, we also will be making this, um, shortly a podcast.

So Amber, let’s talk about. Amber is the VP of [00:02:00] finance and operations for interfaith America. She also is a contributing author to Harvard business review, as well as women stays magazine talking about cool subjects like personal finance, but also about equality and, um, You know, in companies, across companies, as it pertains to diverse interfaith in your companies policies.

So, Amber, I kind of, um, vouched that up a little bit, but you can tell us more succinctly, I think about what that is. And I’m really excited about our topic today, which is making meetings worth our. boy, that’s a big subject and I’m sure a lot of us here, a lot of the members have spent a lot of times in meetings and have a lot of opinions on it.

So we’re gonna let Amber dive right in, but [00:03:00] start raising your hand because very quickly, um, we’re gonna go to the members to start asking questions, or you can give your tips and your hacks for how to have product. Meetings. So Amber, over to you. Awesome. Thank you so much, Michele. Can you hear me? Okay.

We can hear you perfectly. Oh good. Okay, great. Great. Just wanna do a tech check. Um, great. Thank you so much. The Startup Club for having me as Michele said, my name is Amber Hacker. I’m the vice president of operations and finance for a Chicago based nonprofit. That was started by an entrepreneur. Um, that’s called interfaith America, and we help people and we help institutions positively engage.

Religious and non-religious diversity and so excited to be chatting with you all today. So as Michele said, last week, we really dove into time management hacks for individuals. So we talked about on the individual level, how can we all get better at [00:04:00] managing our time this week? We’re gonna take the topic to look at this on an Orgwide level, and we’re gonna tackle a huge topic, which is meetings.

And I think this is so. Super important for entrepreneurs because your time is one of the most valuable things that you have. Your team’s time is one of the most valuable things that you, that you have. Right. And so what I wanna do first, and as Michele said, we really wanna hear from you all and hear from the community, because I know a lot of folks have wisdom on this to share.

Is we first wanna interrogate? Should we even have a meeting? Is a meeting necessary. So we’re gonna take that up first is before we even dive into meetings, we wanna really explore when our meetings actually helpful to have. And when are they not helpful to have right. Is a meeting really necessary. The second part of our show, the second part of our agenda is we’re gonna talk about when we do have a meeting, we’ve determined that it [00:05:00] is necessary.

It is important. How can we make it the most productive. Meeting, how could we make it as impactful and as, as helpful as. So those are the two parts of our show. Um, so, so let’s talk about meetings. So let let’s start maybe with, with, uh, let’s do the good, the bad and the ugly, right? So, um, time is a zero sum game.

So every minute we spend in meetings, especially meetings that are unhelpful and feel like a waste of time is time that could be spent elsewhere. It’s time that we could be spending doing deep work. That’s something that we talked about at length and our conversation together last week. This idea from Cal Newport who wrote a book called deep work of really spending time on cognitively demanding tasks, right.

Um, meetings are also really expensive. Time is money, right? So if we. We’re to add up the hourly rate of our salaries. If there’s 10 people in a meeting for one hour, that’s actually [00:06:00] something that’s pretty costly for our organizations. Right. and we also default to meetings, right? So I think, especially with the pandemic, we default to a zoom call.

And is that really the best thing for our time? The most recent estimates I found are that people spend 23 hours in meetings. So if we have about 40 hours, A week of work, maybe, maybe more than that for us entrepreneurs. Um, but we spend over half of that time in meetings. And so there’s even some most recent estimates that 37 billion is lost in the United States per year of, of.

Ineffective meetings by the time I will finish this sentence, talking to you all 8,000 meetings will have started in the United States. We spend a ton of time in meetings. Um, it kinda reminds me of that talking head song. It, it, uh, I don’t remember the name of the song, but it goes, how did I get here?

That’s exactly how [00:07:00] some of us feel in meetings. So that’s the, that’s the bad let’s go to. The good meetings can be good. Right? So if we are spending time together, either in person or zoom and we’re brainstorming, we really feel like we’re in a flow. We’re building relationships. We’re consensus building around a dis.

Decision. Um, how many of us have been in a meeting where, or been in an email exchange where it’s like a 25 back and forth email exchange where we, where we’re like, actually, if we just sat down and had a five or 10 minute conversation that can save us a ton of time, right? Meetings can be really helpful for setting goals, for giving and receiving feedback, working through really weedy and complex problems.

Right. So let’s discuss. I wanna hear from you all. I wanna hear from you all before we talk about how we can run really effective meetings and time saving hacks for running meetings. Let’s talk about, should [00:08:00] this be a meeting in the first place? So one of the most important time saving hacks with meetings is happens before the meeting even takes place, which is interrogating whether or.

We really actually need to have a meeting right. Asking. Should this be a meeting. As I mentioned, a couple minutes ago, a lot of people and organizations default to meetings, especially cultures that are really collaborative. And I think that’s great. It’s great to have a collaborative culture, but that does have a downside in terms of the amount of time that we spend in meetings.

So I would love to invite, um, some folks to chime in either coming up on stage or chiming in the chat. From your experience. When is it helpful to have a meeting? And when is it not helpful to have a meeting? What is your checklist to determine whether something should be a meeting given your time as an entrepreneur is [00:09:00] really, really valuable and is really important and your team’s time is really valuable and really important.

So I would love to open it up to the group and I would love to hear from you. When should this be a meeting? How do you determine that?

Hey, Amber, how you doing? Um, it’s interesting topic because as startups, you know, I, I go back to my twenties and I remember how ad hoc everything was and how crazy it was. And we just sort of went, we started the business, we did this, we fought that fire. We jump in here, we go to lunch. We do. and it wasn’t until the wheels began to come off the bus that I realized we need to have more structured meetings that were much more efficient.

And so I met up with an individual, um, Patrick fee and he became my CEO coach, and he’s still my CEO coach to this day. And, [00:10:00] uh, I had the opportunity to set up a structure within my company. It was a publicly traded company at the time. And we set up a structure whereby we would have two days of strategic planning, 88 days of execution, and we would go offsite.

And I’m telling you this, I’m telling, you know, it’s two days for editing startup. You’re like, are you crazy? That’s a lot of time, but we would go offsite. And we would put together the most amazing quarterly plan and come up with so many great aha moments. And by the way, the one thing I learned about those meeting.

And I had experience for my prior years, selling a company to a fortune 500 company was that we don’t go to those meetings and just review performance and review indicators. We wanna ideate. We wanna spend our time ideating and figuring out how are we going to solve the big challenges. And what are, what [00:11:00] are our next winning moves?

And we wanna figure those things out. So we spent a lot of time in that two day period, building a strategy for the company and then the executive team, we would leave that, uh, meeting. And then once a week we would have a check-in. And on that check-in we had a red, yellow, green. So we were tracking whether or.

Um, your goals cuz goals, companies that set goals have a much higher chance of success. So we are tracking those goals on a weekly basis, whether you’re red, yellow, or green. And we did that for 13 weeks until the end of the quarter. And I’m telling you it was phenomenal, our company, which flatlined, uh, it was a public trade.

It flatlined 18 million in revenue. We ended up growing to 80 million after we started implementing some of these systems and disciplines. And I’m telling [00:12:00] you, we spent two days of strategic planning, 88 days of execution, really valuable insight. Thank you so much for sharing that. Colin. I think your experience definitely illustrates the best practices that I’ve seen in this area, which.

Having meetings where you are ideating, I believe that’s the word you use where you’re making space for the aha moments where you’re figuring out what are our next winning moves. The, the brainstorming spaces. Are really, really helpful to have either in person or virtual meetings. It’s, it’s harder to brain, much harder to brainstorm via email.

Right. So I think that’s a, a great point and a great best practice. And Amber, I like to do those sessions offline, like not offline, like in a, in a location that is not in the office. Sorry. When I say [00:13:00] offline, I meant, I meant like not in the office. We want to go to a really nice beach house or a cottage or a conference center, but we gotta get outta the office.

And I don’t know what it is, but when you do that with your team, it makes such a big difference in the, uh, in the, uh, output of the meetings. I think that’s right. Colin and I think space really matters. In fact, there’s, there’s a number of studies that illustrate when you get out of the office and you go into a new space, especially a space that has access to natural light.

Interestingly enough, that’s, that’s a biggie. Uh, maybe that’s just, we feel that in Chicago because, um, many winter months it’s, we don’t have as much natural light as we would like. But that’s very, very interesting. And I think that’s right, is getting out of your usual space and also interest.

Interestingly enough, that’s a similar insight for when you want to do deep work, which we talked [00:14:00] about last week, which is actually getting out of your usual space and changing up the environment can make a huge difference. That’s another great best practice. I’d love to invite. Um, Ryan, we’d love to hear from you when, when should, should something be a meeting.

Hello. Thank you very much for having me first of all, in your space. I really appreciate it. Um, when should something be a meeting? That’s a great question. So I think a lot has already been said as far as ideating brainstorming, et cetera. I think that if you are having. An important conversation, a sensitive conversation, a personal conversation with regards to performance or redundancies or personal matter or mental health, or actually on the flip side of that.

Even when you’re celebrating a win a promotion, a bonus. I think it is imperative that those conversations are in person [00:15:00] because the reality is that with the best will and intention in the world, there is so much subtlety and nuance that is entirely lost on the context of zoom calls and other online calls.

So that’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth. And, uh, I yield the mic there.

Thank you so much, Ryan. I, I think both of those are really important points. Both the being aware of the different sensitivities and having confidential conversations and doing that either in person or virtually, but then also taking time to celebrate and reflect and reflect on wins. And, uh, the, the vibes of being able to do that in person being really difficult to replicate over email or slack or other systems.

Thank you so much for sharing. Um, Jasmine. And, and please tell me if I’m saying your name incorrectly would love to hear from you. [00:16:00] Hi Emma. Thank you so much for having me on stage and yes, you, you did so well at the name. Thank you so much. I often have people pronounce it as Jasmine. Uh, I’d love to contribute to the conversation.

I mean, and, uh, Colin and Ryan have said so much and for me, meetings are important. There are about 10 types of meetings that you would typically have in any type of business. And just having an understanding of what type of meeting you’re going into does a lot with framing your. Mind and preparing you for that meeting.

So you maximize the meeting. So there are about 10 of them. I don’t have a list of them off the top of my head, but I have it in one of my playbooks. Um, there is the scrum meetings for people that work in tech, um, for teams that are working on a lot of projects and product development. So you have the daily standup meetings where you’re giving each other updates on the project or on the product you have check in meetings.

I, I think call in touch on that, then you have. Tactical, the more tactical and strategic meetings that could [00:17:00] happen offsite, for example. But I think just having that consciousness of the, of the types of meetings that could possibly happen in a business helps leaders make decisions as to whether they should go into a meeting or not.

There’s also the concept of the rhythm of a meeting. So there’s about five types of meeting rhythms and the rhythm is essentially. Flow or the pattern of the meeting. If it’s a checking meeting, it’s often shorter, it’s around 10 to 15 minutes for a checking meeting. If you’re going in for a, say a review meeting, a weekly tactical meeting, you’re going to spend more time anywhere from one to five hours.

If it’s something like, uh, a quarterly. Tune up meeting, you’re taking your team offsite. You guys are going on something like a retreat. It could be a full day or two days. So understanding the rhythm of the meeting and the type of meeting would help leaders make the most of their meeting. And you, you dropped some great statistics on the challenge of meetings.

Meetings are expensive. Teams are complaining about being overwhelmed [00:18:00] and excessive meetings negatively impacting their productivity. So I think leaders just. A sense of the types of meetings and the meeting and reading and going into a meeting with a plan, an agenda, stick to time, keep to the topic, stick to the plan.

I think those tips, uh, would, would help leaders generally manage meetings better. I I’m done at this point. Desmond so much great stuff that you shared. Thank you so much for sharing that, your point about understanding. Well, what kind of meeting are we going into? And as you mentioned, there are a number of different kinds of meetings.

There’s checkin meetings, there’s off sites, there’s meetings where we’re giving updates to each other. There’s small meetings and big meetings, right. And then your point about what’s the flow and what’s the rhythm of that meeting. So, so important. So one of the best practices in meetings you mentioned, which is stating the agenda up front.

So you’re guiding people into what they’re getting into [00:19:00] another best practice is having really good transitions. Right? So that your point about the flow and the rhythm, the. Is so, so important and that ought to flow from the purpose. What’s the purpose of the meeting. Um, great, great points. Thank you so much.

Um, I would love to hear from, um, Viv and please again, tell me if I’m, if I’m not pronouncing your name correctly. No, that’s perfect. Thanks for having me and I hope there’s not, uh, too much background noise coming through. I’m at a sidewalk cafe. Um, but, uh, I think I’ll just make some very quick points.

Some of which I think were already made, but because of the background noise, I’m not quite sure. I think Ryan mentioned a very important point that if there’s anything sensitive and it’s really important to be, um, sensitive yourself, if you’re the one who’s deciding that a meeting is, is to be held, uh, if you are really aware of whether or not.[00:20:00] 

The purpose of the meeting is going to touch on some sensitive topics for some coworkers or your boss or for, you know, your subordinates. What have you. It’s really important to try to do that face to face for the reasons Ryan mentioned, but also just the very obvious thing. It’s amazing to me. How many meetings take place, where there isn’t a clear agenda.

It hasn’t been communicated to everyone who’s participating. And the objective of the meeting and the information that needs to be disseminated prior to that meeting, uh, hasn’t uh, been distributed and therefore, you know, half the people in the meeting don’t understand why they’re in the meeting and decision points.

If they are arrived at are not really necessarily the best decision points or at least there isn’t collective buy-in. Um, so I just think meeting. Is such a key aspect of, uh, important and successful meetings. And that’s pretty much it. Thank you so much. [00:21:00] absolutely. And, um, Viv that, that is actually just speaking of having good transitions.

That is a perfect transition to the next part of our conversation, um, which is now that we’ve determined that we should have a meeting. What are some hacks that we can make it the most productive space possible. And you touched on some of these, you touched on many of these, I would say the first one.

Which several of you mentioned is stating the meeting’s purpose and stating this up front. I have been surprised at one, the number of meetings that I’ve been to, where the meeting purpose, isn’t clear vivid, you touched on this, right? And I’ve also been surprised when the meeting purpose is stated at the beginning of the meeting.

If it is stated how maybe some folks are unclear on the purpose of what their role is in the meeting. And so Viv, this really goes to your point, which is around [00:22:00] preparation is so, so important. Right. Um, in making it clear the purpose of the meeting, what needs to be decided, ideally in advanced in advance.

Right. And sending that out before the meeting and. I would say out of all the hacks that I’m going to share today, if you take one away, it, I would love for folks to take away sharing the meeting purpose before you start any meeting. And this has been something that has really revolutionized the way that I do meetings at my organization, because I find that it’s a really helpful and important practice to make sure that you’re stating that up front.

The second hack that I’ll share. I have five and happy to share more. If folks would find that helpful is I think meeting etiquette is something that’s really important, especially with more and more of [00:23:00] us working in what I’ll call the hybrid office. Right? Many of us being in person, but maybe some of us being remote from time to time.

And what I mean by meeting et. Is making it really clear if we’re gonna be on zoom, do we wanna have all of our cameras on? Is, is it really important? Um, especially if maybe this is a more sensitive conversation about personnel or performance or something that’s more confidential and that it would be really helpful to see people’s faces.

Many of our speakers just now just mentioned having a meeting to discuss more competent, confidential, or sensitive matters. Is a really good reason to have a meeting. And so I would argue that that would be a great opportunity to do it in person, if you can, or if you’re on zoom or Microsoft teams that you have your camera on.

And then also, conversely. If this is a meeting and this is appointment that JE uh, point that Jasmine mentioned, if this is a meeting where it’s mainly [00:24:00] just kind of listening and hearing updates, perhaps this is an opportunity where you don’t have to have your camera on, um, where I’ll do meetings sometimes where I’m listening on my Bluetooth and I take a walk around the block so I can get some steps in because if we’re in meetings all.

Sitting, that’s not super great for our health. Right. And so making it really clear of, of what are the rules of the game. Is this a meeting that needs to be in person? Do I need to have my camera on? Is this a meeting where technology is welcome or not? And this is super, super important. The most recent stat I read from the science of people magazine was that 73%.

Of us are working on other things while we are in meetings. That’s a huge number. So that’s, if you have 10 people in your meeting, probably at least seven of them might be doing other things, whether they’re on their phones or on their laptop. And maybe that maybe that’s fine, or maybe it’s not. [00:25:00] And so being really clear about meeting etiquette, what are the expectations up front is really, really important.

The next thing I’ll say is when we talked about this last week is having a next action bias. With your meetings is something that really helps to make a meeting feel like it was productive. Uh, and I call this the rule of two or more, which is if two or more people are responsible for something, then no one is.

And basically what that means is making it really clear and assigning people to next steps. Instead of saying something like, well, all of us should be thinking about X, Y, or Z. instead of that saying, you know, Michele, would you mind taking the lead on X, Y, and Z? Right. So that’s, that’s a good example of how having a next action bias, which we talked about last week is really [00:26:00] important as we think about our own individual productivity.

Is really important as we think about how to make meetings better and make meetings more effective. The next hack is something that I, uh, stole from Amazon, and I love this. They have a hack called the two pizza rule, and this is a hack around being really mindful of who needs to be in the meeting and Viv.

This is something that you touched on of a lot of times, many of us. End up in a meeting and we’re not really sure while we’re there. Right. And so the idea of the two pizza rule is that the more cooks you have in the kitchen, the worse it is for meetings. So if it takes two or more pizzas to feed the people in the room for the meeting, You probably have too many people in that room.

And so the data on this is really interesting and it’s, and it’s around seven people. So the data shows that for every person over seven [00:27:00] people in a meeting decision, making effectiveness, Is reduced by 10%. And I have experienced this in meetings that I run. Um, so for example, a couple years ago, when we were making a decision about, uh, where to move our office, our lease had run out and we were, we were being forced to move and we put together a cross org group to help us, um, do some decision making about where we wanted to move, which was a really helpful group to get information and insight from.

But we found that. Helpful to have more people when we were getting data inputs, but it was less helpful to have. 10 people in the room when we were actually making a decision. Right? And again, the data bears that out that for over seven people, decision making effectiveness is reduced by 10%. So the two pizza rule is a helpful rule in thinking about meetings, both in terms of how many people do you want to have in this space.

And then what’s the purpose of [00:28:00] the meeting, which, um, Jasmine helped touch on in terms of really thinking. If the purpose is really decision making, then it might make more sense to reduce the number of people. Whereas if the purpose is to, um, get information and get feedback, then it might be helpful to have more people.

In that space. Um, the next thing that I’ll share is around, um, changing it up and humor. So, um, I think that, you know, humor is something that is so often missed in meetings and is something that can be really, really valuable and it doesn’t need to be, um, super arduous. Right. So I think that whether it’s, um, you know, and I would love to hear from the startup.

Community in terms of what are ways that you’ve injected humor into meetings, because if we really spend over half of our working hours and meetings, how can we make it a little bit more fun? Right. Fun is important. And we wanna [00:29:00] enjoy the time that we’re with our colleagues and, you know, clearly we have things that we need to get done in meetings, but what are ways that we can make meetings more fun?

I think. Super important. And then finally I’ll say the meeting length of time is a really important consideration. And so the average meeting is 30 to 60 minutes, but our average attention span is 10 to 15. Minutes. So again, the average meeting is 30 to 60 minutes, but our average attention span is a third of that.

So back to the statistics I shared from the science of people, which is 73% of your people are working on other things during meetings. How can we make meetings? Shorter, how can we make them more concise? And one way to do that is to change it up, which is to change Colin. You mentioned changing the environment.

Um, I believe it was Steve jobs who was [00:30:00] really famous for walking meetings. So actually going on a walk and talking and getting exercise, right. So there’s, there’s, uh, two. To doing that. So, um, there’s also standing meetings. Another, a number of organizations, um, have implemented standing meetings and they found that when you have a standing meeting, it cuts the meeting by half.

So it’s really interesting to think about what are ways that we could change up the normal meeting, both in terms of length, but also in terms of medium and space and how we do meaning. To make them better and to make them more effective. And so this is an opportunity where I would love to hear from you.

So I shared a couple of hacks that I found in my work with organizations and people that I work with. I would love to hear from you. Um, if any of these time saving meeting hacks resonated with you and what would you add? What are things that you have found. That work really, really well in [00:31:00] meetings. When you walk out of a meeting and you say to yourself, wow, that was a really good space.

We’ve got a lot done. I felt like things were flowing. I would love to hear from you. What did that look like? What made that meeting particularly special in that way? So, um, again, the questions are. Either. What are the hacks that I just shared that may, may or may not have resonated with you? Or what would you add to hacks for effective meetings?

I, I love this subject, Amber, it’s so rich. Um, but a, you know, I’m just like flooded with these thoughts. This is such a good topic. So one thing that I would suggest is. do you have the right people? I know we talked about not having too many people, but if it’s an important decision that needs to be made or you need important information to be germane to the [00:32:00] conversation, do you have the right people in the meeting?

And literally it’s as simple as a diagram. Is there a representative from finance? You know, if it’s. Type of decision. Is it a representative from HR? Is it a representative from marketing? Do you have the right people in the room is one of the hacks that I have found to be useful? Um, another one that I say that I think is useful is, you know, if, if it’s gonna be a brainstorming session, I’ve found that it’s useful to give a little bit of homework beforehand.

you know, nothing’s strenuous, but like a few thought provoking questions to help people, you know, feel like they’re being prepared and they have a little bit of space. Like a lot of us need a little time and a little space to, you know, think about it and to ideate about idea so that they feel like they [00:33:00] come and they’re really able to contribute.

Um, that’s two of the hacks that I’m thinking. and then a third one, I just wanna mention, because I know we’re have been very focused on internal meetings, um, myself and the roles that I’ve had. I’ve also done a lot of external meetings and in those in particular, you know, I find it’s very important obviously to understand, um, as much as possible who you’re talking to and what their business is, but also just being able to go into the meeting and.

This potential client or this existing client, you know, what is it about their business? Like, tell me a little bit more about your business, these kind of questions, um, that you think that we could help you more. So that’s just a few, you know, thoughts that came immediately to my mind. And I’m also always a proponent of like, you know, come to meetings prepared if it’s a check-in meeting, you [00:34:00] know, please come prepared.

You know, I. Had to like, you know, get fire people almost that consistently didn’t come to meetings because it is very disrespectful if you’re not prepared. Thank you, Michele. Thank you so much for these points. I think what you’ve added is really important here. So to the point about it’s not only the right number of people, but to your.

are the right people in the room and are they represented from the right areas? Um, that’s so, so important. And then your point about, especially if there’s a brainstorming meeting, what can we do in advance to make that the most productive space possible? So I’ve found very similar to you, Michele. Uh, for example, if there’s a Google doc, Sent out in advance in terms of, you know, here are just some initial thoughts or questions to get us started and then folks can add to it, or folks can contribute to it.

If folks have time to do that before the meeting, it [00:35:00] makes it that much more productive when we are together, because some of that pre-work has already been done. So I think that’s a really. Excellent point. And that speaks to your point also just about being prepared, whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or a check-in meeting, that, that that’s really important to make sure that we’re, um, not just showing up to a conversation, but we’re showing up with a list of here are the questions that I have, and here are the things that are on my mind.

Thank you so much. Michele would love to hear from other folks, what are other me time saving hacks for meetings? How can we help meetings? Go really well as entrepreneurs and in our organizations,

Amber, I’d love to reinforce something you said about the complexities of a team or of, of a meeting or communication [00:36:00] in general. When you have more people. I saw a study recently and it was just analyzing how communication gets really complicated. The more people join a team or the more people are engaged in any type of decision making whatsoever.

And the Amazon principle is very well recommended when you have. I’m just gonna look through my notes here. See where I dropped that note. When you have five people on the team, you have 40 co communication touch points. When you add another. Seven people to the team, the touch points go from 40 to about 264.

So the complexity grows exponentially. I just wanted to reinforce the point you made about the less people having to make a decision, the more productive, the less complicated and the easier it is for everybody engaged in that setting. I’m done at this point.

Jasmine, thank you so much for sharing those numbers are [00:37:00] absolutely staggering to me. And I think point to the importance of making sure that we’re really being thoughtful about not only the, the number of people, but who is in the meeting and how the more voices that we have, some real benefits to that, but there can be some drawbacks.

Especially as we think about the meeting purpose, that’s, that’s a really, really interesting data point. Thank you so much for sharing that other folks. What are other time saving hacks or meeting hacks that you have found to be particularly helpful when you have gone to meetings or lead meetings? Hey, Amber, um, you know, a couple of other things that have worked for me, person.

um, one is, I’m a big fan of what I call the pre-meeting. I, I know that might sound counterintuitive, but you know, talking, if it’s a big decision that you’re proposing or, you [00:38:00] know, you’re having an issue, I think it very much behooves us at time to make sure that we’re talking to people. you know, that could have really good input beforehand, even if it’s the person you’re walking into the meeting with, because I don’t know about you, but I, I feel like there’s nothing worse than walking into a meeting and it’s like, you haven’t even talked to this person.

Okay. You’re proposing that there’s a problem. Or you’re proposing, you know, a new product or project. And you EV you haven’t even had the basic conversation. So I suggest that, you know, you have pre-meetings and you kind of find out where each other is. It, it is very much like any other relationship that we have outside of work.

And then the other thing I would say is, especially, you know, as we were just discussing, making sure the right people are in the meeting, Well, there’s a lot of people in organizations. [00:39:00] And, you know, let’s just say if there’s only five or seven people, as you suggested in some of these meetings, it’s, it’s absolutely critical that we go back to our teams and we let them know, gosh, what the heck is going on and decisions that are being made.

you know, it’s a rare thing, but like in my experience, the majority, like of people, they, they wanna understand what’s going on and they wanna contribute in a meaningful way. So, you know, that’s some suggestions. Um, in addition to what you said, can I just add a point please? Because something Michele said really reminded me of something quite funny in my own past, I used to work for, uh, for a big firm on wall street in new.

and we’d have a, a corporate issuer come in and we would be pitching them in our office. And it was just a terrible way to [00:40:00] present ourselves because one of us from investment banking would come in. Somebody else from equity research would come in. A third person from capital markets would come in all from bear Stearns and we didn’t.

Know each other, we didn’t always recognize each other. And we often thought that the other people were the client, not our colleagues. so, so one thing that’s really important is just making sure that the people who need to be in the room first are actually in the room and present themselves as the client team, as opposed to, you know, people who don’t even know they work for the same firm.

so, so that’s a really important thing, but the time saving hack that I was thinking. Is, and again, this is a sensitivity issue. Um, you wanna know in most of your meetings that most of the people who participated felt that it was productive, or even if they, the meeting decision went against what [00:41:00] they personally wanted.

At least they felt that they were able to contribute that their voice was heard and that something. Uh, may have been decided upon which perhaps negatively affects them was not something where they had no say in the matter. So I’m just saying participation and making sure that, you know, people don’t appear to each other as stuff, shirts, uh, or feel like their voices don’t matter.

That can be, um, in what appears to be a very positive and productive meeting that can be a real drag and a real negative consequence of a. and, you know, end up losing a lot of time for the organization. So I don’t know how to do that consistently, but just somehow making sure that, uh, you know, all people who do attend feel that the meeting was worth their while is very important.

Thank you. Thank you so much for those points. And I think what you’ve shared here illustrates even more [00:42:00] best practices that I’ve found in my work, which is one, one of the things you shared is the importance of asking for feedback. And this is really important in meetings. And there are a number of ways that we can do this, right?

So we could do a formal survey, which I’ve done when I’ve run, um, you know, meetings or trainings. And, you know, there’s a survey that goes out, you know, to ask folks and, and literally two questions. I normally ask two questions. I ask what’s the most valuable thing that you got out of. Meeting. And what’s the least valuable thing that you got out of this, right?

So to, to really get after what worked really well and getting positive feedback, and then to really get constructive feedback too, because that’s how we get better. That’s how we grow and what was not as positive about this. So I think that’s such a good point of, of really asking her for. and we can’t do this.

Uh, clearly we can’t do this for every meeting that we have, but there are some meetings where it is really helpful to ask for feedback. [00:43:00] The other thing vivid that I heard in your comments, which I just think is so insightful is meetings can often be a space where we are managing change as leaders. And so what, what you essentially said is what it is in my experience, the, the best practice of change management, which change management.

All about making spaces where people feel heard. And what you said is so important, because oftentimes we might have a meeting where we’re getting different thoughts and feedback and opinions, and we can’t do everything that folks may want us to do. Or we ultimately have to go into a different direction.

But if we are making space where people feel heard. Even if we move in another direction, that’s really important in managing change for organizations. And that’s a successful meeting. That’s a great use of meeting such good points. Thank you so much, [00:44:00] Amber. Uh, what works, what doesn’t work? I love asking that question at the end of every meeting.

I think that’s very smart that you brought that up, but I wanna add on to what Michele talked a little bit about there a minute ago. Um, this idea of being.

Colin cut out for me. Has he, oh, go ahead, Colin.

I’m not hearing anyone now. Um, I think Colin is having a little technical difficulty. Let’s let him work it out. Got it. I think I’m back now. I [00:45:00] think the app crashed on me. Can you hear me, Amber? Yes, we can hear you. Thanks, Colin. All right. So, so what we’d like to do before our meetings is do some homework in advance and.

we often for our strategic planning sessions, we will ask people three questions. What do we wanna start stock and continue. And each person will fill that out in advance and then send that to the moderator before the, before the meeting. And what this does is that it gets, and I’m very curious, Amber, about.

I really want your feedback on this one, uh, around group thinking it gets us individually thinking about what we wanna start, stop or continue. The other tool that we use as very efficient. Um, and we’ve had a lot of success in our strategic planning sessions is that’s an application called mural, M U R a L.

And what it allows you to do is you’ll come to a point in the meeting to say, okay, everybody put up on the board. What your thoughts are, but what I find is [00:46:00] these types of applications or that question that we ask or that homework, it, it, it sort of addresses the group thing because when you’re in organizations, there’s leaders and those leaders can sometimes be dominance and they actually, um, you know, you really want everyone to come from an authentic point of view.

And, and, and address challenges and opportunities in the organization. But yet, sometimes that doesn’t happen because, you know, the leader says one thing, and then obviously everybody says everything around that. So mural was the application and, uh, homework in advance. Can you talk a little bit about group thing?

Yeah, thank you so much for that call. I think that the stop, the start stop and continue framework is a really, really helpful framework. And in regards to group, think I have found in my experience, the start stop continue [00:47:00] is actually much more useful. One on one. Um, in terms of, I, that’s a framework that I might use with my direct reports and our check-ins as a way of giving and receiving feedback.

I think that’s a great, um, that those are great questions to garner some of those insights and it can be used in groups as well. But I do think in some ways it can. It can ha it can bump up against challenges, um, such as group think as you mentioned. So in my experience, it’s a really helpful framework.

One on one. It does have to be handled with some care when you’re doing it with larger groups and in meetings. And thank you for sharing the mural, um, platform that’s I had not heard of that. So that’s a really interesting one to look at. I, I also wanna speak to a couple things that Michele mentioned in her earlier comments.

I think that the pre-meeting conversations, Michele, that is [00:48:00] really, really important insight. I have found that having a five minute conversation, a meeting before the meeting, if you will, can actually be really, really helpful and useful of just clarifying a. Question that I have, or clarifying an expectation that I have in terms of what role can I play for you in this meeting that would be most helpful to you.

Right? And so I think for role clarification, that is such an important point of what’s what’s the meeting that needs to happen before the meeting. The second thing that I’ll say, um, that you shared Michele, which I just. Such an important insight and super smart, which is, you know, you mentioned, you know, we talked about the two pizza rule, the Amazon rule, Jasmine mentioned this as well.

The, and you know, recognizing that likely we’re meeting perhaps with, you know, three or four or five people, but we’re in, we’re in organizations of 10, 20, 30, [00:49:00] 5000 people. And so one of the really important points is how are we communicating? Between subgroups and how are we communicating? What happens in that meeting?

And this was something that was really brought to my attention. Um, I attended a, a navigating team dynamics webinar with, um, Lisa Stephan, who is a university of Chicago booth school of business professor. And she teaches this really phenomenal class. It’s an online class. Anyone can join. I think it’s 50 bucks and it’s called navigating team dynamics and she gets.

Much more of this in terms of looking at different languages that teams speak. But I had a call with her just a couple of days ago. And we we’re talking about this very thing of how important it is. And you touched on this Michele to think about how are we then. Communicating out what gets decided or what happened in a meeting.

So the right [00:50:00] folks know, so it’s not just happening in a vacuum. Right. And so I think the, the communication piece is really important, would love to hear from other folks, other meeting hacks of how we make meetings go well as entrepreneurs and at our organiz.

All right, I’ll go. Um, you know, one thing, you know, people hear. Differently. So just, you know, it might seem basic, but I think a lot of us don’t do it, including myself sometimes is actually sending out meeting notes afterwards [00:51:00] that way, if somebody missed something or they heard it differently, they can, you can just rapidly and kind of, you know, overnight take care of it.

Cuz the last thing you want is for people to walk away from a meeting. Feeling frustrated later on because they totally misunderstood something that was agreed upon or a next action, whatever it might be. But I find meeting notes afterwards are just as important. And in my case, sometimes more important, um, than an agenda.

Thank you so much, Michele. I think that’s a really important point in terms of not it’s it’s important, what we do before the meeting, in terms of having the meeting before the meeting, what conversations do we need to have? How can we prepare? How can we make sure the right people are in the room? How can we make sure we’re.

Stating the purpose. It’s important. What we do in the meeting, Jasmine, um, referred to some of this and thinking about flow and rhythm and how we’re [00:52:00] running it. And then Michele, what you just spoke to is really important, which is what we do after the meeting. So how are we sending out notes? How are, how are we making it clear what the action steps are and then who is leading?

What such an important point. So I think we’ve put together a really phenomenal list of meeting hacks. Um, so last yeah, if I may let it go something, um, that I just thought of, like, I don’t know if we’ve talked, talked about the frequency of like the team meeting. Yeah. That’s a great point. Olivia say more.

Are you thinking about how often we have. Team meetings, one-on-one meetings. What the what’s the cadence say a little bit more about, um, the frequency of what you’re thinking? I, I think, um, I’m thinking about both like one-on-one and team meetings. I used to work for a startup that all employees, [00:53:00] um, were supposed to meet weekly with their direct managers.

And after week three, it was like, well, we don’t even know what to talk. Anymore. Um, and when I’m sorry, my cat is around. And, um, when it comes to team meetings, how often is it efficient and how often is it really just talking about the same things? Because we’re not letting a team work and take the time to complete the tasks.

Got it. I think, I think that’s a great question. Olivia, I have a colleague. Noah, who often says, as we talk about time management and productivity, he says I can do meetings. I can be in meeting. I can answer emails or I can actually do my work, but I can’t do all three is his, is his line on this? Which, um, your comments Olivia reminded me of.

And I think the short answer to your question really is it depends. And [00:54:00] so I know for the cadence of one on one meetings, I’ve found with some of my direct reports. I have one direct report who really needs. Hour a week because we really have to dive in and solve some complex issues. So when I meet with my HR director and we’re talking about the latest CDC changes, um, with COVID and what that means for our organizational policies, you know, that really needs to be a longer conversation.

And so, you know, when I’m meeting with her, it really is an hour. I’ve had other direct reports, um, which is similar to what. Situation, you referenced Olivia who find that they actually need only about a, a very quick 10 to 15 minute touch base to ask a few questions and then we sign off. And so I think that.

For in my experience, there’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s more about, um, what, how, and when we’re thinking about meeting with one on one with team members, you know [00:55:00] what that relationship looks like, what that person may need and what the goals are. And I would say the same, or same as true as we think about team meetings.

So I think what we wanna avoid is having a meeting for meetings sake, right? And so sometimes during really busy seasons, it, what may make sense for teams to connect more in person because there’s a lot to tackle. And I think the overall point is we wanna be really. Thoughtful about when we’re calling meetings, because if we are calling a meeting, we’re taking people away from their work, which is what you mentioned, Olivia, which I just think is so critically important.

Um, we talked last week in this space about the importance of deep work and the importance of not being interrupted and how costly interruptions are, and meetings are literally interruptions, right? They interrupt our day. . And so I think, you know, is the meeting necessary is the most important question.

And then thinking about the cadence [00:56:00] of the meetings and the cadence could change. Right? So with my team, when I, I oversee the operations team at my organization, there are some seasons where the team meets, uh, once a month. And there are sometimes where we meet once every three. And so it’s important to me to make sure that we’re really utilizing that time and really respecting people’s time because our time is really valuable.

And so I think that the cadence of the meeting. Whether it’s a one-on-one or whether it’s a team meeting really depends. And it’s really important because it’s so easy to put a reoccurring meeting on the books and just to have it on your calendar, but to really interrogate whether or not that’s actually needed and necessary, I think is a really helpful practice for all of us as entrepreneurs and as leaders.

Michele, I think I’ll kick it over to you because, um, if as the, as the time management person, I think it’s Uber important for me to be respectful of people’s time and to end [00:57:00] on time, because that wouldn’t be a good look. yes. Agreed. It’s been an amazing se session by Amber hacker. I’ve learned, you know, it just reminds me of a lot of things and, and there are some new things too that are coming to my mind.

So thank you to all the members that join today. Your input is invaluable and thank you, Amber. So moving on to next Wednesday. No, actually Thursday, sorry, Thursday at 5:00 PM. Amber will be back again with us and Amber will be talking again about more productivity hats. So if you want an email alert with the details of specifics of her next session, please go to and join the email list.

Um, thank you, Amber. Thank you. All the members. Um, this has been a network presentation, [00:58:00] and we really appreciate everyone who came on stage. Everyone who sent chats, everyone who sent messages, if we could all do meetings better, you know, I I’m just gonna say, I think the world would be a better place.

Thank you. Thank you very much. It was great. Thank you everyone. Thank you everyone. Great job, Amber. I enjoyed you. Thank you, Jasmine. Thank you for your contributions. Thank you for having me.


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