Episode 6 – People Dread Meetings: 11 Ways to Make Yours Better

Show Notes:

Ever feel like meetings are the bane of productivity? Whether you’re steering the ship in a high-stakes boardroom or weaving through the nuances of a casual brainstorm session, I’ve laid out an 11-step roadmap to keeping your meetings tight, engaging, and—above all—respectful of everyone’s precious time. From the art of the punctual start to the subtle dance of video call etiquette, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill tips; they’re the secret sauce to elevating your collaborative encounters.

In this episode:

  • 11 steps to streamlining and improving your meeting
  • Is your meeting truly necessary?
  • Starting the meeting on time
  • Two minutes for personal updates/greetings
  • Silent meetings – don’t waste time
  • Ongoing formats are helpful
  • Video vs. no video?
  • Cancelling last minute is bad form
  • Call out a person’s name BEFORE your question or request
  • Accountability – hold people to their commitments
  • Multi-tasking – can something be done right now during the meeting?
  • Celebrating successes – are you grateful to contributors?
  • Are you dry, dull, or Draconian? Being a jerk isn’t helping
  • Got a dad joke or a bad pun? Please share in your meeting for fun
  • Send me your comments and feedback on the show!

ThirtyFiveSixtyFour is your weekly dose of inspiration for navigating the exciting, unpredictable, and undeniably transformative journey of midlife. Hosted by Karen Stones, founder of 13 Jacks Marketing Agency, avoids the tired cliches of crisis and stagnation. This podcast celebrates the power of play, discovery, and possibility that comes with this unique chapter in life. Join us every week as we delve into the real stories, challenges, and triumphs of midlife. We’ll explore fresh perspectives, practical tips, and inspiring experiences that will help you thrive, not just survive, during this pivotal time. Ready to rewrite your midlife narrative? Head over to thirtyfivesixtyfour.com and be a part of the adventure!

Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Be direct, have a date in mind or a specific goal. And don’t kind of hide behind things with flowery language. Everyone wants to understand what’s expected of them and be clear about that.

[00:00:22] Welcome to episode number six. Today I’m here to give you eleven tips on running your meetings better.

[00:00:35] Now, before we jump in, I just want to preface this by saying this isn’t just for your traditional Zoom teams or boardroom meetings. From a business context, these kind of things flow into PTA meetings, meetings with a designer who is helping you paint new colors in your house, you name it. I believe that you can get more efficient with your time if you can master these things. Let’s jump in one. Do you even need the meeting? Really? I’m serious. Do you need the meeting? If this is a business context, I encourage you to calculate how much the meeting is costing you. Simply figure out, hey, these employees are paid $100 an hour and I have ten employees in this meeting. How much is this costing the business? Is it worth it? Can I solve this by a organized, detailed email, a quick teams message, or a text message? I’m not sure, but make sure that when you schedule someone’s time, you actually need to schedule their time. Number two, start on time. Wow, this is a tough one, right? There’s so many things we are all juggling, but there’s nothing worse than being on somebody’s schedule and they are late even worse when they are late consistently. Don’t be the person who makes a meeting for 10:00 a.m. But, you know, everyone knows that. It’s really 1015. I’m going to say, if someone hasn’t showed up to your meeting and you’re sitting there ten minutes in abandon ship, even if you’re waiting for an executive, everyone deserves respect for their time, and everyone should aim at starting meetings on time. Number three, watch the first two minutes. So I try to be very, very efficient with my time. I am often paid by the hour when I’m working from an agency perspective, and so I want to make sure that people get value when they’re talking to me. I actually only spend two minutes at the beginning of every meeting discussing personal things. How was your vacation? What’s the weather in Chicago? How is your new puppy? All those things are great, and I actually do love them. You’ll find I actually greet every single person who is in my meetings by name, no matter what. And my goal is to use that first two minutes while people are kind of straggling in to do that one on one greeting. So watch the first two minutes. If personal conversation goes beyond two minutes, you need to stop and you need to jump in. Now I’m going to give like a side note on this tip. Number three, don’t have a silent meeting. What does that mean? Have you ever dialed into a phone call and you see a bunch of people are there but it’s silent? That’s creepy. That’s weird. I would much rather join a call where people are talking and there’s noise so you know that the audio is working. Don’t be the person who runs a call that’s silent at the beginning. That is just weird. I don’t like it. And I know some of you people are laughing because you know the meetings you join that are like the creeper ones like that. Number four, stick with the format. If you have a reoccurring meeting, say every Tuesday with your team, use the same format, go through the same things in the same order every time. I find it helps with organization for the person who’s delivering the meeting as well as the attendees of the meeting. Okay, this is a tough one, video or no video. So I actually don’t have a strong preference here. I do know that some people have a very strong preference of having everyone on camera. And here’s what I found. Simply ask. Ask the organizer. Is it important for you to see me on camera? Some people feel strongly, some people don’t care. I actually particularly don’t care. And I also try to be sensitive to the fact that there’s a lot of time zones sometimes joining these meetings and we’ve all had the day where we’re sitting in front of a camera and we just, yeah, we just don’t feel like turning it on. So hey, understand who the leader is of the meeting and I would even personally ask them, is it important that I am on camera? If they say yes, then make that a priority. Number six, don’t cancel last minute. This is a tough one. Have you ever had, I call them the Friday meeting people and any first off, if you haven’t been told if you’re scheduling a meeting beyond noon on Friday, you suck. Yeah, people are talking about you. That is not cool. But there’s nothing worse than not doing something in your personal life because someone has scheduled a meeting and then they cancel it 1 minute before dial in. Don’t be the person who cancels last minute. Look ahead at your calendar every Monday and be respectful and cancel ahead of time. I’m going to also talk about a very sensitive subject around cancellations and that’s for all of the leaders out there and executives. If you hold one on one meetings and you are canceling meetings consistently with your team, that makes them uncomfortable. That makes them question what’s happening. It makes them unsure of their value. So if you are scheduling one on one meetings with people who are subordinate to you, make sure to keep those as a priority.

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[00:07:38] Number seven, this is a really good tip. I think you’re going to love this one. Call out a person’s name before you’re expecting them to respond. So let me give you an example. We have all these statistics about how much all this is going to cost the organization, and I know that we’ve been working through all these numbers. Noah, can you tell me more about that? Flip that and say, Noah, we have all these numbers that we’ve been working through. Da da da da da. So it cues them. They hear their name first, and then they are more likely to come off mute and they are more likely to be engaged in your question. So use someone’s name at the beginning and not the end. I’m telling you, this is a game changer. If you do it, it makes a big difference in the flow of your meeting. Number eight. This is something that I also think I’m particularly good at and I don’t want you to fear. Hold people accountable. That’s right, hold them accountable. If they said that they were going to do something by x date, then ask them the status. I will tell you that I see a rampant amount of meetings that are just flowy. Oh, I heard that we were going to do the email campaign by end of quarter and Joe is going to work on that. No, no, no. We are finishing this email campaign the first week of the quarter. Joe, where are you at with that? So be direct, have a date in mind or a specific goal, and don’t kind of hide behind things with flowery language. Everyone wants to understand what’s expected of them and be clear about that. Now, here’s a tip that has worked really well for me, and it is. When you are suggesting a certain timeframe to complete an activity, ask the person to create their own timeline. So let me give you an example. Hi, Monica. I know you have all of these ad layouts due. When do you think a reasonable amount of time would be to turn those in? Here’s what I have found. Nine times out of ten, people put more of an aggressive deadline on themselves that you will deliver. So let them choose a date. Now, if that date doesn’t align with your project timeline or whatever you’re doing, fine, but let them actually throw out a timeline. Like I said, nine times out of ten, people are going to be more aggressive with the timeline if they mention it themselves. That’s a big tip. Number nine. Now, this is a little controversial, but I’m going to throw it out there anyways. Assume people are multitasking.

[00:10:37] You know, it’s no shock that there’s all sorts of stuff going on during meetings, whether it’s emails, texts, driving, laundry, whatever it is, assume people are multitasking. Now, I would venture to say if you’re able to multitask in a meeting, you’re probably not needed, but that’s a whole other conversation. So what I do is I try to actually leverage that. Right. So I might say, Maria, while you’re in front of your computer, why don’t you just go ahead and send that to Joe now? So this isn’t something that’s an action item after the meeting. This is a here and now. Let’s do it. Let’s get it done. So I will direct people, if I know that they can accomplish something during the phone call, to actually do it. So, hey, Rachel, find that and send it to me. Don’t wait until the end of the call. I’d like that in my email. Can you drop that in the chat right now? So utilize the multitasking and have them work on your stuff, not something else. Okay. This is something that I think is also really key to running great meetings is to celebrate successes. I love to tell people that the work they’re doing matters because you know what? I want people to tell me that. So I make sure if it makes sense to call people out by name and thank them for the good work they’re doing, I highly, highly suggest this strategy. It works. People want to feel like they are making a difference. And, you know the grateful thing, we can be grateful at work in addition to our personal life. So make sure people know that you’re grateful for their work, their quality of work, and how they show up for you. My last tip. Tip number eleven. Don’t be a jerk. How many phone calls or meetings do people just dread because the person running the meeting is dull, dry, or just straight up draconian? Those are the worst. Those are absolutely the worst. I’m not saying you have to be Shirley Temple smiling and jumping and, you know, bouncing with beautiful curls in your hair. No. But I do think that you get a lot further of in life if you approach things from a nice perspective. So don’t be a jerk. Don’t be the person who is really just dictator like in their meetings. That’s not going to get you anywhere. I really strongly suggest that you take an approach that’s more personable. Now, this is my asterisk as far as running a great meeting. But I want to tell you that I do think it’s worth sometimes in the right context, having fun. So if you have a lame pun or some sort of dad joke, drop it in. We want to smile. People want to smile in their everyday life. Laughter is so key to enjoying every single day. If you’re able to respectfully put in something funny in your meeting, whether it’s intermixed in the middle or at the end or beginning, do it. Your team will look forward to it and you’ll be running one of those meetings that people actually look forward to attending. I hope some of these tips have been transformational in the way you think about meetings. If you agree, disagree. I can’t wait to hear from you. Make sure to dm me on social I media want to hear what you think. Thanks again for joining us today.

[00:14:30] And that brings us to the end of another episode. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. Okay, so if you haven’t already, make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss another episode. If you’re loving what you hear, I would be incredibly grateful if you took just a moment to rate and review this show on your favorite podcast platform. It helps others discover us and it’s a great place to share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas for future episodes. For even more exclusive content and detailed show notes, check out our website at 3500 DoT and that’s spelled out 3564.com. As always, a huge, huge thank you for spending time with me today during this episode. I appreciate that you tuned in. I’m going to leave you the same way I do every episode. Remember, it’s not too late, you’re not too old, and you’re definitely not dead. Okay. Until next time, friends.

  • Karen Stones

    Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

    Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.

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About the Author

Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.