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10 rules of a successful meeting in a tech company

Tomasz Łakomy

November 01, 2019

I've been a part of 5 different (non-remote) companies over the last couple of years and those are the things I've personally seen to work really well.

  1. There's an agenda, emailed to everyone days in advance. Preferably with a desired outcome of the meeting. Everyone attending should be able to answer the question: "why are we here?"

  2. It's clear who's running the meeting. A meeting without an owner is what we refer to as 'clusterfuck'. This person doesn't need to be a professional moderator, scrum master or whatever but at least they should ensure that people are not talking about Tim's new scooter for 15 minutes.

  3. Start with a prototype. If a meeting revolves around creating a documentation of your hiring process (for example), get someone to write a draft version first. Do not make 10 people stare at a blank sheet of Google Docs paper. It's so much easier to collaborate on something that has been already started than to start from scratch, especially as a committee.

  4. People are awake, focused. Laptops are closed, phones remain in their pockets. If you really need to answer that crucial Slack message, consider leaving the room for a second in order not to distract others.

  5. It's obvious whether it's a decision meeting or a debate meeting. This is highly important - your team members need to know whether they need to make a decision about the new architecture change at the end of this meeting or they are meant to discuss the idea and come to conclusions later.

  6. Someone is writing down action points/notes. It would be absolutely fantastic if that person would be informed about that expectation before the meeting starts.

  7. If there's any audio/video connection involved - the room is prepared well in advance. If you're running the meeting, get to the room 5-10 minutes earlier. Make sure that the TV works, audio is on, microphone is not laying in the corner of the room. Do not make 20 people wait while you're fumbling with an HDMI cable.

  8. Don't organise meetings that could be an email instead. Let me repeat that.

  9. Do not organise meetings that could be an email instead.

  10. And most importantly, respect others' time. Do not keep 15 minute meeting artificially running for an hour because your pizza arrives at 1pm and you really don't have anything useful to do in between.

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