I came across a Quartz article about how some well-known business chiefs hold ruthlessly effective meetings. I’d encourage you to read the article, and I’d just like to highlight the main points here, and what my take on them is.
Throw out the least necessary person in the room
Apparently, that was how Steve Jobs did it. I wonder why. Aren’t meetings supposed to involve only those involved? If you find yourself at a meeting and you have no idea what you’re supposed to do there, get out and maybe fire yourself!
Don’t use chairs
That is one way of holding a meeting, and I have heard of hospital chiefs doing that. It’s great if the meeting is solely about decision-making, one of the two reasons why you have meetings in the first place! If the meeting involves generative discussions, then this mode might not be so good. You decide.
And if you do use chairs, keep one empty
Apparently, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos does that to remind people of the paramount importance of the customer. Something to think about, I suppose, but it just doesn’t call my name.
Take the meeting poolside
If you’re Richard Branson, why not? Otherwise, consider holding the meeting off site once in a while. Perhaps meet at the premises of one of your business units for a change. Just make sure they don’t get unnecessary heat from you.
Ban PowerPoint presentations
To me, a little extreme. Use if they enhance clarity for decision making or generative discussion.
Don’t set up meetings more than a day in advance
That is apparently what Warren Buffett does in order to keep meetings fresh and relevant. I suppose it works for him. For me, there are scheduled and unscheduled meetings, depending on what they are for.
Decisions should never wait for a meeting
Larry Page is of the mind that “If a meeting is vital to the decision-making process, the meeting must happen immediately”. I agree. I also say that scheduled meetings are still important because decisions need to be aligned. What may appear to be a minor decision, if made in isolation, might generate serious consequences down the road.
You can get away with being late… if you’re the boss
This one surprised me. Apparently, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo does it all the time. No, you can’t. Not even if you’re the boss.
Send an advance copy
I’m surprised this even came up. Isn’t updating an ongoing thing?
If you have an international meeting, don’t wear your jacket on the plane
If we understand what dressing is all about, we would pay more attention to it, and not emphasize dressing down. Not that we should be overly concerned about dressing, either.
Whatever it is, understand the principles behind the actions, and apply judiciously in your own context.