Effective Meetings are Not About Speed

by | Aug 30, 2018 | Office 365 news

Microsoft Teams provides a place for teams to work together, share documents, and hold meetings. As I mentioned yesterday, Microsoft has been working hard to bring meeting capabilities from Skype for Business Online into Microsoft Teams, and is making solid progress on this, albeit with more still to go.

In making its case for using Microsoft Teams for meetings, Microsoft funded a research project looking at the effectiveness of meetings, and concluded that meetings on the whole are fairly ineffective. Interestingly, this is the same line of argument that we profile in our Principles of Smarter Meetings document, and why we start our work with clients looking at the current state of work activities (what we call “productivity scenarios”) in scoping the opportunity for introducing change in how people work together. If we can see an opportunity, then we can do something about it – through an integrated mix of better practice and better tools.

Here’s the diagram that Microsoft shared from its research:

Research findings on meetings - by Microsoft

What’s interesting in reading the blog post talking about Teams for meetings, however, is the emphasis on “faster” and “quicker.” For example, here’s the two pivot lines that jumped out to me (emphasis added):

  • “Meetings occur in the hallway, in meeting spaces, the shop floor, or in daily standups. No matter where in the world a user may be, the recent investments made in Teams meetings will help work to get done faster.
  • “With the recent capabilities released, meetings can start quicker. It’s about making meetings easy to schedule once a decision has been made to connect, and a frictionless join at meeting time.”

Don’t get me wrong – I think faster and quicker have a place to play, but actually, in the way we think about it, what meetings need to become more effective is much more about slowing down. 

It’s about scoping the agenda right. 

It’s about getting the right people on the invitation list. 

It’s about preparing solid pre-meeting materials so people can come prepared and maximise meeting time for interaction and discussion, not for listening to a presentation.

It’s about finding the right time, not just some knee-jerk reaction to “meet now” and thus break flow and concentration and deep work.

It’s about effective meeting behaviours where leaders listen in order to hear and are then able to leverage the input of everyone in attendance.

It’s about hearing what’s said, capturing effective meeting notes, and making solid follow-up plans.

None of these are fundamentally about faster and quicker. But if you can get these disciplines right, you’ll win about 90% of the battle for better meeting effectiveness.

And then, sure, let’s use modern and efficient and new and interesting tools like Microsoft Teams to actually hold the meeting.

How effective are the meetings at your place?