How to Fix Meetings Book Summary - How to Fix Meetings Book explained in key points
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How to Fix Meetings summary

Graham Allcott and Hayley Watts

Meet Less, Focus on Outcomes and Get Stuff Done

4.4 (173 ratings)
19 mins
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    How to Fix Meetings
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    To design a productive meeting, first define its purpose.

    Here’s a scenario: Gavin has to organize a team meeting. So, he finds a convenient time and venue, and sends out invitations. Then he simply waits for the meeting to take place. But when the day finally rolls around, no one finds the meeting useful or productive. 

    So what happened? Well, like many people, Gavin focused solely on the meeting itself. What he should have done is pay attention to what happened outside the meeting room. According to the authors’ 40-20-40 Continuum, both organizers and attendees should spend 40 percent of their meeting-related time and energy preparing for the meeting and 20 percent in the meeting itself. The remaining 40 percent is for productive follow-through. 

    That initial 40 percent lays the foundation for productivity. And the first brick in the foundation? Purpose.

    The key message here is: To design a productive meeting, first define its purpose.

    A purpose clarifies a meeting’s goal, and establishes not just who should attend, but also what’s expected of them. It also makes it easy to steer the conversation in the right direction. Even regular meetings, like weekly team gatherings, should have a different purpose each time. 

    To determine a meeting’s purpose, speak to potential attendees about the issues that need to be discussed. Then use this information to write a purpose statement – one or two sentences explaining what the meeting should accomplish. For example, “By the end of this meeting, we will have decided on key priorities for next month’s campaign.” Share the purpose statement ahead of time so that people understand what the meeting is about and can decide whether or not to attend.

    Next, plan the meeting so that it actually fulfills its purpose. To do this, draft an agenda that includes the topics to be discussed, the time allocated for each one, and the person responsible. The more detail you provide, the easier it will be for people to come prepared.

    If you’re unsure what the agenda should include, there are a few approaches you can try. One is to imagine the agenda is a story with a beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning, explore the issues at hand and their context. Then, in the middle, move on to solutions or paths forward. The end is for determining next steps. Another approach is to structure the agenda around the questions what, why, when, how, where, and who. Then spend the meeting answering each question as it relates to the purpose statement.

    Like the purpose statement, the agenda should be sent out before the meeting, along with any relevant information that will help attendees prepare.

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    What is How to Fix Meetings about?

    How to Fix Meetings (2021) is a guide for turning long and ineffective meetings into well-designed sessions that encourage collaboration and produce results. From defining a meeting’s purpose to helping people get started on their tasks, How to Fix Meetings outlines the best ways to get the most out of any meeting.

    Best quote from How to Fix Meetings

    Its about getting the right people there. This is a delicate balance of quality over quantity.

    —Graham Allcott and Hayley Watts
    example alt text

    Who should read How to Fix Meetings?

    • Leaders who want to change their organizations’ meeting culture 
    • Facilitators who want to run better meetings
    • Anyone fed up with ineffective meetings

    About the Author

    Graham Allcott is an entrepreneur and speaker, as well as the founder of Think Productive – a company that’s helped improve productivity and wellness within organizations like Heineken and eBay. Allcott is also the host of the business podcast Beyond Busy, and the author of several books, including the bestseller How to be a Productivity Ninja.

    Hayley Watts is a Productivity Ninja at Think Productive, where she trains clients to make better use of their time and improve their relationship with work. Before joining Think Productive, she worked with various businesses and charities.

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