How to have a good meeting

Hey (first name),

As I finalize my transition out of LegalEase Marketing I have had a lot of time to reflect on meetings.  The amount of them we have needed to book to get me off of the bank account, credit cards, etc…in some ways it’s insane.  So many of these could have just been an email.

“Poof…you no longer have access to this account!”

Instead it requires us to line up 3-4 schedules, call a bank branch, find out they can’t book with a business banker at that branch, go over to the app, make sure the Moon isn’t in retrograde, turn clockwise for 12 complete circles while reciting the original founding documents of the credit card company in authentic latin, and then confirm the meeting via a fax sent to a machine in 1985 that tells us when to duck.

But look, here’s the thing…I don’t think ANYTHING in business has as varied of an outcome as meetings.

One study found that people would rather go to the dentist, talk politics at Thanksgiving, or call Comcast customer service than be stuck in a bad meeting.

But other times a good meeting like Nick Fury bringing the Avengers together and you can make more progress in an hour with one well handled meeting than you can in a month of back and forth messages.

So let’s do it.  Once and for all, right now…let’s commit to never having another shitty meeting again.

Step 1) ask yourself do we even NEED a meeting?

Recreate image from here about email v meetings

If it’s stuff that can be done via email.  Don’t have a meeting.

Putting aside all the research on multitasking (it’s not a thing) a short 5 minute meeting is

Actually a 50 minute meeting if you bring 10 people to it, and

Might suck up 15-30-45 of time from each person for them to get back into flow.

So really, less is more.  Or to be grammatically correct like the Onion Knight fewer meetings is better.

Once you have settled on a meeting, you need to think about what has to happen BEFORE the meeting takes place.

The Case for an Agenda

Starting a meeting without an agenda? It's like entering a courtroom unprepared. A faux pas in our world!

Legal Byte: A Harvard Business Review study advocates that a solid agenda can cut meeting times by up to 80%. That’s like wrapping up a lengthy deposition in record time.

Run your agenda in the order you want to run the meeting and stick to it.

I’ll give you 2 examples

My meeting with my assistant (every Monday from 9-9:30

Review the past week - what else needs to be done, what went well, what went poorly, how can we do things better

Review this week and next week - is everything ready to go?  What else needs to be done?  What can we put into any open slots?

Update my part of the spreadsheet for my law firm weekly meeting (9:30-11)

Review pending tasks spreadsheet

Anything else to discuss?

Meetings with my Personal Marketing Team (Thursdays 10:30-11:30

Review assigned tasks from prior week

Go through social media KPIs and task list

Review CRM KPIs and updates

Review videos created and outline captions

Review newsletter for this week

Any issues we can address for people?

Assign tasks for this week

Feedback (see below)


Those meetings don’t have time allotted for each part, but for my weekly firm meetings we do break it down by time per section.

Agendas are like the One Ring.  If it didn’t exist they wouldn’t have gone anywhere.  So if there isn’t an agenda…DON’T have the meeting.

So assuming you do NEED this meeting and you have a great agenda, let’s actually have an awesome meeting.

(title) WHEN to have the meeting

Now that you put together the agenda (or pro-tip someone else did and you reviewed) make sure anything else that is on the agenda that needs to be done BEFORE the meeting is done.  This means you might not be able to have the meeting in 5 minutes from right now.  REALLY make sure people have the time to do what is needed for the meeting to go well.

And then, let’s talk about (the other) WHEN to have it.

No book has rocked me to the core recently quite like Dan Pink’s When.  It talks about the ideal time to do things and so I HAVE to steal it here.

Boiling an excellent book down to just this one point gets us here:

75% of people are better on tasks that require focus in the morning and on being creative in the afternoon.

25% of people are the opposite.

How do I use this knowledge?  

The meetings where we are updating everyone, checking KPIs and what not - those are in the morning.  Usually 9:30 which gives everyone enough time to get into work, confirm there are no fires and quickly prep for the meeting without getting deeply involved in something else.

The meetings where we get together to brainstorm an idea, review our marketing and otherwise strategize - those are in the afternoons.  Usually 1:30 - 5 or 3 - 5 and then we normally go to dinner or happy hour afterwards.

🗣 Orchestrating the Perfect Meeting

Provide a video meeting link and record the meeting.  I have NEVER regretted recording a meeting (even if we didn’t do anything with it).  I have CONSTANTLY regretted NOT recording it.  Plus google meet is STUPID smart about just linking the recording to the calendar so it’s easy to find.

Designate a note-taker (not you, for me it’s my assistant in every meeting she comes to) and a meeting facilitator (this is almost always, but not always always me.)

Ensure Every Voice is Heard: Just as every attorney gets their moment in court, ensure each member has their spotlight in the meeting.  If there is nothing for that person to highlight, don’t have them in the meeting.  There’s no reason for someone to be there unless there’s a reason for them to be there.

Facilitate, Don’t Dictate: A study from MIT pinpoints that balanced talk-time in teams leads to smarter outcomes. Lead the discussion, but don’t monopolize it.

Interruptions? Overruled!: No one appreciates being talked over in the courtroom, nor should they in meetings.

Consensus vs. Decisive Verdict: Sometimes, you need a unanimous jury; other times, a judge's call is all that’s required. Understand which approach fits the situation best.  At the end of the day it’s YOUR firm.  So sometimes it needs to be your decision.  Other times making sure the team is heard and it’s their idea gets the buy-in you need.  This is the TOUGHEST part of a good meeting, figuring out when to do which option.  Here’s my advice - trust your gut and May the Force be With You.

Keep score - whether you follow EOS, 4DX, 12 Week Year, or really ANYTHING I have ever read about running a company, you need a scoreboard you can refer back to.  This helps you see where you are on track, where the team needs some extra help, and helps you show everyone the amazing progress you WILL have when you do this.

📝 Feedback: The EOS Level 10 Approach

As you can see above, I START my meetings with my assistant with feedback (because it’s based upon the calendar review so we don’t have to back track).  

But normally for other meetings I suggest you close out with an efficient feedback mechanism, akin to post-trial reviews. How else are we to improve our case (or meeting) strategies?

We directly use the EOS rule for our firm’s meetings.  

We rate the meeting 1-10 and then I ask a few people why they rated it that way and what we can do to make the meeting a 10.  

This process takes 3-5 minutes and it worth it’s weight in GOLD.

Legal Byte: Teams that practice systematic feedback, as per an Atlassian report, are 41% more likely to hit their goals.

(Title) Now DO or do not (just have a meeting)

Make sure you have the takeaways down COLD.

When in doubt ask other people about what they are and make sure EVERYONE knows them.  Do this while everyone is there at the meeting BEFORE #3 below goes out.

Schedule time to get the stuff done

At the end of our weekly firm meetings I usually have a task or two for me to do that week.  So guess what, my assistant puts the time to do it ON my calendar, right then and there.  Then I just do it when that time comes up.

Quickly send out meeting summaries to participants. Meeting summaries provide the main information and due dates discussed during the meeting. Sending this information to participants helps them remember important points and start on related tasks.  This would come from the note-taker.

So there we go!  Follow this advice and never go to a stupid meeting again.  (at least I hope/wish this were true)

Next week I am going to talk about how to get more done in the same time (spoiler alert, don’t multitask, it's really not a thing).

Until then, have a wonderful weekend and I will see you back here next week!

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

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