Coffee Talk: How to run efficient meetings?

coffeetalk

#1

Hi Team,

Today let’s talk about meetings at work! Asana mission is “to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly” and that also applies to meetings! We do have a lot of resources available online (I’ve listed them below) to help you make your meetings as efficient as possible, but I’d love to learn about your experience!

What are your best tips to organise a meeting? How do you make sure to get out of your meetings with an answer/solution or at least some progression?

I believe one of the key thing for a successful meeting is to come prepared. For example, having an agenda in the meeting invitation allows every stakeholders to brainstorm and gather their thoughts in advance, which will later help saving time and bring some structure to the meeting itself. While browsing for content online, I came across this Ted Talk (both hilarious and very smart at the same time) in which David Grady talk about “MAS” (“Mindless Accept Syndrom”) and about our habit of accepting meetings the second an invite lands into your mailbox, before having a chance to ask yourself if it makes sense for us to attend.

Does that sound familiar? :eyes: Do you have anything in work (training, learning resource, processes…) to help you running efficient meetings? What are your top tips?

Can’t wait o read all your stories and learn from your experience!

Ressources:

https://blog.asana.com/2017/12/one-on-one-meeting-agenda/


Reoccuring task working but sub tasks won't disappear from past tasks?
#2

#3

I think it’s essential to make sure that meetings are based around doing something or allocating actions. I’ve been to so many meetings where I’ve walked out after an hour thinking, ‘That could have been an email’. Updates and meetings should be different things.

I also agree with keeping to an agenda. My wider team meets once a month, using an Asana project template (of course!) to guide what we discuss. Everyone can add their agenda items in advance, with any relevant links for background. In the meeting itself, we can assign tasks and set due dates as we go, so everyone’s clear on who’s doing what. If we get to the week before and there’s nothing much on the agenda, we’ll cancel the meeting and let someone else have the room.

Finally, I think it’s great making use of technology to keep meetings flexible. We’ve just switched to Skype for Business, which seems a lot simpler than the previous system we were using, and dialling in from anywhere means that important meetings don’t have to be so constrained by people’s calendars.


#4

Like @Mark_Hudson I have used and have advised clients on using Asana for meeting agendas which are always available so people can update tasks offline and in advance. One key to good meetings is having the right number of people in the room (usually reducing).

I have used multiple Asana projects to do this. Other teams are informed of tasks from one meeting without having to be in that meeting while increasing transparency and employee engagement.

For example, the sales team makes a decision on a task and they add it to the “cascading messages” section for an operations team. If anyone on the operations team needs to provide feedback, they have the opportunity without slowing down the workflow.


#5

@Mark_Hudson and @Brad_Lozan , totally agree with you, meetings and updates should be two different things! A good project update/conversation can go a long way and save everyone’s time!


#6

I did record meeting in Asana, but having this issue on how to keep the meeting note visiable for future reference.

The usual flow in Asana is: you plan some task (in this case a meeting), you finish the task and you mark it as completed. Once we mark meeting as completed (with all the meeting note) I find it difficult to find them again. Of course we could use tags or search to find them but I find it not really a natural way to do things

Could you guys share how you deal with meeting task: keep them as in-completed task or use some technique to find them easily.


#7

Hi @Viet_Anh

We have a notes section in our meetings project, where we record what was said and decided at each meeting:

We keep these notes at the bottom of the project for easy reference.

Another option would be to select the ‘All tasks’ view in project settings:

image

That would keep all completed tasks on display, which you could then drag into a different section.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:


#8

I also tend to use Asana for managing “tasks” that occur in the meetings, rather than burying the content inside another document (that also makes finding tasks easier). Typically in a meeting you will end up with 3-8 “tasks” assigned to various people and they all have different committed end dates, so I just use Asana to capture those commitments.

This also reinforces to the team that they need to get their task done since they agreed and there is even an audit trail to remind them :slight_smile:


#9

In my company we use the symbol :heavy_check_mark:.
A meeting is a task, and as we want to have them visible all time (in “not completed” view), we add the symbol when the meeting is completed.
And as @Mark_Hudson explained we also have a section “Meetings” at the bottom of the tasks’ list.


#10

Coming prepared, sticking to an agenda, and coming away from the meeting with meaningful conclusions and group consensus is vital to a valuable meeting.

But before you schedule or start to prepare for a meeting, I think it’s important to ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is this meeting necessary?
    • Can it be accomplished without a meeting? Avoid them if you can, but don’t avoid them if a meeting is the best way to move forward. Most of us dread meetings, but sometimes it’s the most efficient way to get everyone on the same page.
  • What are the meeting goals?
    • If there aren’t clear goals, the meeting will be wasting everyone’s time.
  • Who should be invited?
    • Avoid MAS in the first place. Only invite those that can contribute to the meeting. Also, more people is likely to lead to less focus.
  • What time, duration, and place best fit the meeting?
    • Now that you know the what and who, consider what time and environment will be the most productive.

#11

We have a 1-page document that most managers here have been given to pin-up at their desk, called the “Should We Have a Meeting?” checklist. The idea is to start at the first one and if you get stopped at a box, then no meeting.

Should We Have a Meeting?

 The topic is important
If NOT – don’t meet and approach this topic another way (or not at all).

 Meeting is the best and most practical way to solve this issue
If NOT – use other collaboration options like a survey, group discussion online, etc.

 Everyone invited is an essential participant
If NOT – limit the meeting participants to essential parties only.

 The group has authority to act
If NOT – is there still significant value in meeting?

 The key decision makers are able to attend
If NOT – wait until key decision makers can join.

 Pre-work has been requested of the key participants
If NOT – add pre-work to get as much done before the meeting as possible and cut down on the meeting time required.

 An agenda with clear goals has been set and distributed
If NOT – create an agenda with defined/clear outcomes and send them out in advance.

 Enough time has been allotted to get the desired outcome
If NOT – alter the goals of the meeting to accomplish them in the time frame, or reschedule and allot the proper amount of time.

 There is a strong meeting facilitator
If NOT – find a capable “driver” who will drive the meeting towards its goals without running over participants.

If every box is checked - Let’s Have a Meeting!


#12

Thank you so much for sharing this lisr @Joel_Charles, great MAS prevention material :slight_smile:


#13

Regarding the use of Asana to run meetings…

I always put meetings into 1 of 2 buckets: the “recurring” meeting and the “ad hoc” meeting.

Ad hoc meetings are those random meetings that are probably just going to be a 1 time thing, maybe with a follow-up or two… but they will not be on-going. For those meetings an Agenda with Objectives should definitely be set, but typically I don’t use Asana to manage these agendas. We have a template/form for such meetings and I usually just fill it out and email it out. There are some exceptions… but typically I handle ad hoc meetings outside Asana because it helps keep Asana a little cleaner for our organization.

For Recurring Meetings, on the other hand, I strongly encourage everyone to manage them in Asana. I have some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly… but most all of them are managed in Asana. I’ve seen a lot of methodology on how to best do this, and I have a method that works for me (after a bit of trial and error). My standard is to create a Project and name it for the meeting (Weekly Meeting, for example) and then create sections for each upcoming meeting (Titled “mm/dd/yyyy Agenda”). As the Facilitator I always plan a few meetings out and have sections for those meetings already created. Then the last section I create is Parking Lot.

Then you just populate each section with Tasks for Agenda Items. One nice thing about this is that during the meeting we’ll have Asana up and check items off as we cover them, so you actually see the Agenda shrink. Another nice thing about this method is that when topics do not get covered (which often happens), you already have the next meeting being formulated, so you can easily drag the topic to the next meeting’s Agenda. Or put it in the Parking Lot, which is where we put any random things that come up that we’re going to table for another time. Having the Parking Lot at the bottom is nice so that when we wrap early (on occasion) we can pick one Parking Lot item to pull out and discuss.

Here’s an example from my weekly managers’ meeting:


#14

One meeting project for recurring topics with sections makes sense. I sometimes struggle with adoption amongst team members when creating yet another project for meeting agendas. Sometimes its just easier for me to run the meeting from a projection of the project plan in Asana itself, while maintaining a task with meeting notes.


#15

We are also using a task for each new meeting we have, with a meeting section inside all projects.
Before the meeting we create the task, we add all the participants as followers and share the agenda so that everyone can comment. Then we take notes during the meeting in the description and in parallel we create tasks for the actions decided. At the end of the meeting we can still discuss some points with comments.
And if our project is sat up with “incompleted tasks” then we add a symbol :heavy_check_mark: in the meetings name to avoid really validating it. This way we always have an easy access to all the meeting notes.


#16

I do the exact same thing @Julien_RENAUD and it works well.


#17

#18

I’d never thought to use the :heavy_check_mark: symbol in that way. That’s a great idea.


#19

This has been an extremely helpful thread. I’ve been using a single project for recurring meetings but it has never been formatted in a way that felt most productive to me. Thanks, guys!