Voices of Remote Work
4 min

How to Hold Effective Meetings | Jordan Thibodeau

For Walking Meetings & Remote Work

We spoke with People Manager Jordan Thibodeau who worked at Google for ten years. He’s the community manager for the Silicon Valley Investors Club, an online investment and careers community for STEM employees. Jordan shared how creating agendas and setting goals can make your meetings more productive.

Jordan: Thank you for having me. This is the first time I’ve used the Spot App, and I think it’s great. I need to take more meetings while walking. I’m working from home and don’t walk from conference room to conference room taking meetings, so I need to boost my cardio or become as large as Jabba the Hutt. So it's great that your app helps folks become more active during meetings.

Spot: Walking can do wonders for your creativity and productivity! So tell me, how do you ensure successful and productive meetings? 

Jordan: Agenda. If there is no agenda, there is no meeting. I have attended meetings where executives have walked out because they were so disorganized. Larry Page used to tell Googlers, “If you're in a meeting that’s a waste of time, just leave.”

Unfortunately, we don’t have an app to track the cost of wasteful meetings. Each check-in meeting could cost the company thousands of dollars in payroll and productivity when these meetings could have been resolved via Slack ping.

S: This is very true. So how do you ensure your meetings are productive?

J: 1. Create an Agenda - Sharing an agenda for every meeting, from recurring 1:1s with your employees to large meetings, allows attendees to save time, ask clarifying questions that might defeat the purpose of a meeting, and let folks skip the meeting if they aren’t needed. If you don’t have an agenda, create one, and if you can’t think of one, reach out to the meeting attendees to confirm if everyone still wishes to meet.

2. Write down tasks - At the end of the meeting, make sure who is accountable for the tasks from the meeting and write them down. This will greatly improve your meetings.

3. Accountability - Make sure someone follows up with action items that need to get done. We all have a thousand things going on! So it’s good to have accountability to ensure we are following through with our actions.

Also, every meeting should be recorded except when the topic is private or sensitive. And the reason is that there's no way you'll remember everything in the meeting and with distributed teams having a few people join a meeting early in the morning or late at night is a waste when you can just record it. Finally, new hires can watch the recording meetings to become more productive over a shorter time horizon. 

S: This is all so helpful! This is great. So we're talking about agendas first and foremost, action items after the meeting, and recordings. What else? 

J: I have a few other points: 

1. What is the goal for your meeting? Is this an informational meeting or a brainstorming session? Will this be a brainstorming session? Having a goal in mind allows you to determine if the meeting is achieving results or if you are on the right track.

2. Who are the mandatory and optional attendees? When I started my career as an admin, I would receive requests from employees trying to schedule a meeting and the attendee’s list would be way too long. It’s best to confirm who needs to be in a meeting and who is optional. The more employees you add to the attendee list, the odds of your meeting being scheduled greatly diminish. A question to ask yourself is, “What is the minimal number of attendees I need to accomplish my goal?”

S: I'm curious how do you ensure that employees feel connected with others doing remote work?

J: You should not depend on your employer for this. It has to be your responsibility to connect with others in your organization.

Being in the office forces you to interact with colleagues from various departments. In this environment, people come to you, and the office serves as people funnel; this is a concept I discuss in my networking course. Whereas in the remote working world, you have to build that funnel and be more intentional.

You should reserve time on your calendar to regularly meet new people in your organization. This will provide you with a broader view of your organization and help you to solidify relationships that will be mutually beneficial. If you struggle with meeting new people, I wrote a guide on how to make that easier.

Are you a leader in the remote work space with a perspective on how to have better meetings with your remote team? Then we want to hear from you! Book time with a Walking Coach here.

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