Meetings get a bum rap, especially from Gen-Y founders. What are the youngest entrepreneurs actually doing behind closed conference doors?
The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 13 successful young entrepreneurs how they keep their start-up staff meetings lively and productive, week in and week out. Here are their best answers.
1. Simply Stand Up
We have a daily standing meeting, during which each person is actually standing. The meeting typically lasts five or 10 minutes with everyone sharing their progress during the last 24 hours, goals for the next 24 hours, and any obstacles they have. We've found that we all get to the point faster when forced to stand rather than sit.
-- Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep
2. Share Your Growth
Pitch a brighter future. Show your colleagues your company's current growth or share some current and future revenue projections. They will get excited and therefore be more productive and proud that they are part of something big.
-- Ak Kurji, Gennex Group
3. Prepare the Agenda in Advance
The worst meetings have two characteristics: no agenda and no objectives. Send a meeting agenda to attendees in advance of any meeting. Figure out what topics can be handled outside of the meeting, and also which ones merit more attention based on your team's replies. The benefit? Shorter meetings that provide everyone a sense of accomplishment.
-- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
4. Focus on Focus
Figure out your key points for the meeting and discuss only those. It's amazing how quickly a group can get off topic. Don't silence off-the-wall, fun comments related to the topic at hand, but if someone has something important to say about an unrelated topic, let him or her know there is a time and place for that comment, and this isn't it.
-- Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk
5. Stick to Short, Departmental Meetings
I believe in segmenting meetings into departments, and then limiting the meetings to only 30 minutes. Once a week, I spend the last part of the day in half-hour departmental meetings where I meet with each department. We discuss productivity and we define specific goals and agenda.
-- Chad French, PeerFly
6. Host Hangouts, Not Conference Calls
My company is all virtual--everyone works from their own home office al l around the country. To stay connected, we've started using Google+ Hangouts for our weekly team meetings. It's so much more engaging to be able to see everyone on video than just hear voices, and it ensures that everyone stays focused and isn't doing something else while they're pretending to listen!
-- Laura Roeder, LKR
7. Schedule Friday "Beer and Learns"
On Friday afternoons, we hold "Beer & Learns." The subjects include everything: company-wide feedback, focus groups for a new product build, client QA testing, or brainstorm sessions. It's a great way to stay lively and have fun, but still talk strategy.
-- Abby Ross, Blueye Creative
8. Be More Spontaneous
In a flat company structure, opting for more impromptu, rather than planned, meetings keeps things fun and interesting. Everyone gets a break from their current tasks to come together for a session, which can leave them feeling energized and empowered when they return to their work. In turn, this boosts team morale and increases productivity.
-- Nick Reese, Elite Health Blends
9. Blend in the Bonding
I always make it a point to incorporate a team activity into staff meetings. First, it motivates them to want to attend, and the meetings are more productive because of this. Second, it builds a stronger team. Another added benefit is that the meetings usually aren't filled with a bunch of useless discussions. My team wants to provide quality feedback and get the information they need in a short-period of time so they can move on to the fun stuff--we've incorporated picnics, bowling, and even sailing into meetings.
-- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
10. Experiment With Schedules
One of the best things we've done with our weekly staff meeting was to change it from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. It completely changed the feel of the meeting because on Fridays, we were always talking about what had already happened that week. On Mondays, people were more forward focused and we talked about proactive plans for the week ahead, and we ended up being so much more prepared. This has led me to rethink the timing of several other weekly meetings we have, and increased productivity by a ton.
-- Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding
11. Determine Action Items
After discussing each item on your meeting agenda, identify action items, point people for those action items, and deadlines for completing those action items. Do this for every item on the agenda when you discuss it. That way, you leave the meeting with a whole new set of productive to-dos and clear direction for who is doing them and when they are getting them done by.
-- Stephanie Kaplan, Her Campus Media
12. Brainstorm With Structure--and Sweets
Set and agenda and stick to your stop time. Brainstorms always spark creativity and enthusiasm in our office. Establishing a framework for the brainstorm keeps them structured and productive. When in doubt, involving candy and good humor never hurts!
-- Melissa Kushner, goods for good
13. Why Meet at All?
We rarely have meetings at TalentEgg. I find that they generally create an unnecessary and unproductive structure around what should just be a quick chat (either virtually or in person). That being said, it's important to spend time together as a team, so every Friday, we have a "numbers and highlights" meeting at the end of the day. Each team member presents their key metric, and something exciting that happened in the week. After everyone is done, we easily roll into random chat about the weekend. It's a great way to get some face time, share important information, and wind down.
-- Lauren Friese, TalentEgg