So you don’t like meetings—who does? You actually want to do stuff, not just talk about doing stuff. We feel you. It’s one reason all of Lemonade’s job postings list a willingness to “get shit done” as a requirement.
In lieu of a proper introduction to “set the scene” and “introduce more SEO keywords,” let’s just dive straight into some tips and tricks to keep your meetings short, sweet, and to the point.
Consider all regular group meetings to be placeholders
So you have a recurring weekly meeting. It pops up on your calendar, causing equal parts dread and annoyance. Ask yourself: Is this meeting actually necessary each and every week? Is everyone on the invite actually needed in order for the meeting to happen, or will a handful of people be sitting around wondering why they’re there?
Instead of thinking of that recurring meeting invite as an inevitability, think of it as a placeholder.
If the meeting doesn’t seem critical? Skip it! Fact: No one in the history of the world has ever cried over a canceled work meeting.
Make sure the people invited to your meeting actually need to be there
As the meeting date approaches, the host should review the agenda, and remove any folks who aren’t critical to the meeting’s success. There’s nothing more inefficient than someone sitting in the back of a conference room, wondering why they’re there, and trying to sneak in some actual work on the sly.
If you are removed from a meeting invite, don’t take it personally. Nobody hates you! Enjoy the extra time back in your day and use it to tackle more important projects you may have.
Publish an agenda in advance
If you’re sending out a meeting invite via Google, use the description field to include a brief agenda as well as any relevant links to documents or decks. It’ll ensure that everyone knows the focus of what you’ll cover; there’s nothing less useful than a random meeting that’s called something like “Creative Brainstorm,” with no further info or context.
Default meeting times should be 25 minutes
Respect your colleagues’ time! Life is short. 25 minutes also builds in a little breather if someone has back-to-back meetings… a chance to brew a cup of coffee or walk in circles to get your daily “home office exercise” in.
Having a specific, published agenda will make it a lot easier to cap your meeting time. Feeling extra saucy? Challenge yourself to a 15-minute default.
Don’t stumble in late
Simple but key. If you can’t make it on time, decline the invite. This way you won’t disrupt the flow of an in-progress meeting. No one will be mad at you, and you can always get filled in later.
Rethink regular one-on-ones
While regular one-on-ones between managers and direct reports are incredibly important and useful—there’s no law that says they have to happen each and every week. Keep an open line of communication, and determine together if it makes sense to shift to a biweekly, or even monthly, format.
It’s fine to leave a meeting if you’re no longer needed
Maybe you only had one important point to make during the first 5 minutes of the meeting, and now everyone has moved on to business that doesn’t really involve you. If it’s a Zoom call, go ahead and drop out early (interject quickly to explain, or simply drop a polite note in Zoom’s chat function). The same applies if it’s an in-person meeting; just wait for the right moment to make a non-disruptive exit.
Slack can often be a good replacement for a meeting, an easy way to hash out ideas or plan a schedule. But the opposite applies. If you find yourself typing out paragraph after paragraph, consider jumping on a video call, saving everyone the tedium of reading your Great American Slack Novel.
Get in the timezone
Thanks to technology, your co-workers in another country may feel close… but don’t assume they’re as wide awake as you are right now. Many of us at Lemonade work in New York. When it’s 5pm here it’s already close to midnight for our colleagues in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. And then there are the Lemonaders in Arizona. What time or day or season is it in Arizona? Nobody knows.
End a meeting when it’s…done
If your objective is achieved halfway through the meeting, thank everyone and call it early. No one gets bonus points for running out the clock. That’s why books end with the words The End and don’t just go on and on with more stuff after that.
In fact, go ahead and actually say the words “the end” when your objectives have been achieved. It’s whimsical, and everyone will know that you’re finished. If you’ve got nothing left to say, what’s the point in dragging th—