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Fixing meetings

Think of the last time you were in a long, boring meeting. You probably accepted the invite by reflex, to "stay in the loop”. Unwittingly committing to losing precious time you'll never get back. During the meeting, your attention faded. You forgot why you were there, and started checking emails. You saw an invite for “Project X planning & sync” and clicked "accept". Prolonging the vicious cycle of pain.

Meetings. They are snakes slithering across your calendar, eating your time, camouflaged as productivity.

Our core mission at Slite has always been to help teams work more thoughtfully. We've built tools and methods that helped us turn our meeting culture around. It requires change, but it’s dead simple.

First, three simple reasons why meetings usually don't work

  1. Too many attendees. Six people in a meeting means five of them are not 100% active at any given time. Attention spans decrease for those not actively participating.
  2. Not outcomes oriented. “let’s have a meeting”, “let’s catch up on that” is so frequent, as if meetings were the actual solution. They're not. But work sessions with a clear agenda and outcome can help you reach solutions.
  3. Reporting only. Should you be wasting multiple people's time listening to each other report what they did? Reporting can be done asynchronously. It conveys messages better and lets you do actual work during the meeting.

Add these mistakes up and you might end up not only with poor outcomes from meetings, but dreading them.

Why I now love meetings

Short answer: because we've taken the bad part out and turned meetings (specially marketing meetings) into work sessions.

Let me illustrate how Laure, leading Marketing at Slite, and I work. Every Friday I receive a notification in Slite to a doc called “Marketing session”, that I can go through on my own time.

It’s a straightforward doc structured in two parts:

  1. Reporting: this part is written like an article, with full sentences going over the last week's main points. It contains rich docs like spreadsheets, videos and images. It's long form, with very few bullet points, making it a pleasure to read.
  2. Agenda: this is the part that's a win-win. In return for the thoughtful reporting, attendees are invited to add discussion points to the agenda, and to start working on the proposed agenda.

Come Monday, the 2-4 meeting attendees know what we'll be talking about and we can start working together straight away.

The keys to making work sessions work:

  • 👸Each work session has a dedicated owner.
  • 📝 The owner prepares the report and agenda.
  • 💌 The owner sends it to all attendees, at least a day in advance.
  • 🙇 Each attendee reads the report and works on the agenda.
  • 🏗️ The session is about actually working on each point.
  • 📝 The owner takes note on the session takeaways and outcomes on the doc, for everyone to refer to.

Get started!

It seems simple because it is. The real challenge is to commit to this process as a team.

The first step is to reduce the number of attendees per meeting, so that no meeting feels like an extra hustle for anyone.

Second, Slite can encourage your team to develop a written culture. It leads to well-prepared meetings with traceable takeaways. Writing things down doesn't stop at meetings: it can impact your entire company.

Slite is built to give your team a simple space to document their work, encouraging a better meeting culture is just the tip of the iceberg. Check it out and if you have hacks that solve your meeting issues reach out and let me know!

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Written by

Christophe Pasquier is Slite’s co-founder and CEO. Chris’ goal is to help teams do incredible work in better environments, by helping them embrace remote work and async communication. He currently lives in Berlin with his wife and baby Noé. Find him @Christophepas on Twitter!


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