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5. How can we avoid endless meetings?

The average senior leader spends 23 hours a week in meetings. That leaves 17 hours to do your actual job.

Kyle & Jeff discuss the rampant spread of meetings across marketing leaders calendars, and what you might be able to do to reclaim some (or a lot) of that time for you and your team.


(Primarily autogenerated, let us know if you see any errors!)

Kyle: Hello and welcome to unReactive, where we look to help marketing leaders reclaim their time and sanity by exploring the topics that keep us stuck in a state of reactivity. I’m Kyle Morck, and I’m joined as always by my co-host Jeff Reynolds. How’s the day treating you, Jeff?

Jeff: Extremely unReactive. And very proactively. So I think that’s positive

Kyle: Oh, good. What does that mean to you to be proactive?

Jeff: Yeah. It means I’ve spent the day doing things that matter to me, which also many of them matter to other people. But instead of just simply reacting, you know, reacting to my inbox and this sort of thing, I’ve made my plan, executed said plan and feel really good about it.

Kyle: Oh, good.

Jeff: Yeah. What are we covering today, Kyle?

Kyle: Today I want to talk about how marketing leaders can avoid endless meetings. I see amongst our clients, really every person. It’s not a problem that is exclusive to marketing. It’s not a problem that’s exclusive to leaders, but so many people in any type of corporate situation, they seem to spend their days going from meeting to meeting, from Zoom call to Zoom call.

It’s hard to imagine anybody really likes that or thinks that’s a good way to spend their day. So I wanted to talk about some strategies and tactics that you might be able to implement to avoid that.

Jeff: Yeah, it’s amazing the percentage of time that the people we work with spend in meetings. Now, we generally try to be a very low meeting culture. But I would say that seems to be really a rare treat. Do we know how often people spend in meetings, like how much time they actually are?

Kyle: Pulling some data from Harvard Business Review, it says that senior managers spend on average 23 hours per week in meetings.

Jeff: 23 hours.

Kyle: Yeah. That is more than half of your week, if you’re working a 40 hour week, which you’re probably not because you’re doing all of your other work outside of that nine to five day because you’re spending all day in meetings.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean, just simple math on the 40 hour week, right? That’s 17 hours of working time that you theoretically have. And that’s the average that, that blow- I mean, it’s almost as if people are starting to see their jobs as meetings instead of whatever the value is that they bring.

Kyle: And that data is from 2016, which some research indicates that the number of meetings has increased by 12% post covid. So I think that the problem’s getting worse, not better.

Jeff: And do we think that’s because there’s a hunt for a sort of sense of control , you know, over things? Or what’s the explanation there?

Kyle: Yeah, I think a hunt for a sense of control. I think that there’s when you work remote, you’re adding a lot of meetings to your calendar to try to replace that interoffice interaction. And just, frankly, it got a lot easier to put a meeting on someone’s calendar when you know that they’re probably sitting at their computer and don’t have a good excuse not to join your meeting.

Jeff: Yeah, and I think culturally things have shifted over the last five or 10 years. This median culture has steadily increased and in some cases overtaken some cultures. I mean we work with some folks who, you know, we only get emails from them on Sundays because that’s when they actually sit down to do their work.

Kyle: And I think that that is one of the biggest issues with meetings is that effective marketing leaders, they need time to think deeply about the problems that their department faces. And frankly, they’re not accomplishing their real work during meetings, which means that then they’re waking up early in the morning, staying up late, or working on the weekends to do the thing that’s actually their job.

Jeff: Right. And not to mention it’s just really a hard way to work when you’re in and outta meetings. You have an hour break or a half hour break. It sort of just makes the whole day work less effectively. Right.

Kyle: Yeah, there’s a lot of data that supports, essentially the numbers that I’ve seen around your ability to concentrate and do effective work during a day is between two and a half to three hours. So if you’re spending three hours in meetings, then you’re taking up most of your concentration and ability to do work.

Just spending that on meetings.

Jeff: Well, not if you’re doodling the whole time, Kyle. I mean, I guess my point is you’re making a choice. You’re either, if you have relatively limited energy stores through your workday, then you’re making your choice. Is the best place for you to do that in a meeting to, you know, to express that energy, or is it doing whatever your highest and most valuable work is?

You’re making a decision.

Kyle: And a lot of people end up trying to get somewhere in between where they spend their days in meetings, but they’re trying to answer emails or do other things during the meeting. And all that’s doing is just causing them to multitask, which there’s a ton of evidence around how multitasking doesn’t work, and it makes it so that you’re not really engaging with the meeting.

So you’re not getting much out of that besides your presence, but you’re also not engaging with your work in a way that is getting the best out of you that you can.

Jeff: Everything becomes sort of surface level. I mean, obviously, you know, multitasking, we won’t belabor that point, but I even think for marketing leaders, it’s even worse than that because in the modern environment it’s not like you’re like, multitasking between reviewing, you know, these two different ads, and your brain is sort of in the ad space. And that’s what we’re talking about, multitasking. That’s not generally what we’re talking about here. We’re more like trying to multitask between reviewing something super hyper detailed like the, you know, click through rates on a digital ad and then jumping to the 10 year strategy of the business.

And those states, that state shifting, those states are so different and so big. You really can’t be successful doing that. I would go as far as to say that multitasking, we know it’s a myth, but when you try to multitask as a marketing leader, you’re actually not doing any tasking at all. You’re just skimming the surface,

Kyle: Yeah.

Jeff: over all of it. Because you’re not only shifting topics, but you could be shifting locations, people, communication style, status, roles. Are you the leader or are you the listener? That’s a huge amount of cognitive load that comes with trying to multitask and just state shift, even just between meetings, let alone trying to fit in other things.


Kyle: And then you add on top of that your email or your slack and all of those things in the context switching that you’re doing is just insane during the day. There’s data from Rescue Time, which is a software that kind of tracks how people’s computers get used and they do a really good data analysis on people’s time.

And they found that on average a worker only has about an hour and 10 minutes of uninterrupted time during their day. That’s not an hour and 10 minute block, that’s an hour and 10 minutes total that they’re not context switching to email or jumping into a meeting or anything like that. So if you only have an hour and 10 minutes in, five, 10 minute blocks during your day, it’s very hard to get that work done.

Jeff: I have to think that everybody listening to this can relate, right? Like if you actually tracked your time, actually a long time ago when I was at Y Combinator, Paul Buchheit, who was one of the he was a, a mentor there, and then he at, at Y Combinator, which is a startup accelerator. And then he was also the inventor of Gmail and he was, as you might imagine, he’s very smart, very nerdy guy, and he was tracking every minute of every day, every like second of every day. He had built a little custom app that he was using and it was hilarious cause you’d be like talking to him and then you’d finish up the conversation. He’d pull out his phone and then click like two buttons to track his time.

And I think, I guess my point being, imagine if we all did that, like what would we see about our days and how it aligns because we’re just talking about meetings as sort of a category. We’re not even talking about what the topics of those meetings are. How many of those meetings do you not even need to be in in the first place?

Kyle: And that’s not even to mention the way that we pack meetings together during a workday. Cuz so often our clients, they’re, you know, a few minutes late to a meeting because they just got done with a meeting and then they need to leave that meeting to jump into another meeting.

And when you don’t have any time during your day for any downtime- That’s incredibly important for your brain to function well, so you’re not even really able to contribute to those meetings if you’re just stacking them one on top of another.

Jeff: Yeah. It sort of becomes a performance art. It’s just wild that we’ve let ourselves get here. Can you think about, are there certain types of meetings that are worse than other? Are there particularly bad types of meetings, I guess.

Kyle: I think that there are a lot of types of bad meetings and one thing that is important to put our context around is the cultural issues that lead to these different types of meetings. Cuz it’s not that a meeting itself is bad, it’s more what you’re talking about, the content, who’s in the meeting, why it’s happening.

I think one thing that’s interesting, recently it was in the news that Spotify removed all standing meetings with more than two participants from everyone’s calendar. They just kind of, IT wise deleted them from everyone’s calendars and I applaud their effort for trying to put some thought into fixing the problem, but it’s one of the stupidest ways to try to fix it because it’s very much trying to cure the symptoms and not the cause.

The meetings themselves are not the problem. It is the thought process, the cultural pieces that lead you to putting those meetings on your calendar in the first place.

Jeff: I just, I, I, I think that’s a interesting your point. Just to reiterate that point is, you know, you can keep giving the dog the shock therapy or whatever, to get them to stop doing a certain behavior, but if that behavior is ingrained in that dog, all you’re doing is giving the dog shock therapy. You’re not actually solving the sort of core issues or adjusting the systemic and cultural issues that got you there in the first place.

Kyle: Yeah, like all Spotify’s probably done is create some type of black market for underground meetings that you’re putting on your personal calendar or something, because the core issues of why those meetings were scheduled hasn’t been fixed.

Jeff: But I could also see where they would get to a point where they’re so fed up that it seems like the only way to deal with it is to address the symptom. So all I I’m saying is it’d be fascinating to know if they did pair this sort of resolution with actual more upstream solutions.

You know?

Kyle: Yeah. And hopefully it works out for ‘em. We’ll see. I think it’s really indicative of an issue with just how communication happens within an organization. Cuz number one, I think when you have bad meetings, it’s because there’s not enough transparency and visibility into how teams are functioning.

And you start to have of a struggle over information within the organization. It becomes a thing that if you miss a meeting, You are missing out on the information that’s discussed in that meeting. You’re missing out on your opportunity to put input on it, and you feel like you need to be in that meeting to be protective over your space, or it puts you at a disadvantage.

Jeff: Yeah. And it can even morph into almost like a status play within the organization. You know, good employees go to meetings and therefore in the loop and quote, bad employees, you know, don’t, and, and you end up like the guy in the office space in the basement with the red stapler, you

Kyle: Yeah. Cuz a, a lot of cultures within organizations work on an information economy. The person that’s most in the know has the most power.

Jeff: Right, and you don’t want the meeting to turn into you’re both trying to get visibility because there’s not enough transparency into how the team is functioning to your point. So you’re trying to get visibility in, and then what happens is it morphs somehow into the meeting is a place where you get visibility for yourself that you are also engaged as an employee. So that, that’s where the status play comes in.

Kyle: And the other thing that I think it really comes down to is that it shows that there’s probably not enough clarity on the work to be done and the status of that work within an organization, because there’s basically questions of: ” Where is this project? What is that? What are we doing?”

And the natural way to fight that is to try to have more meetings to force that clarity that, okay, we’re all gonna get in a room and not leave it until we have clarity on this situation.

Jeff: The beatings will continue until morale improves, or, or another way I just think about that is that it’s sort of like when you’re speaking with somebody who doesn’t speak your language, we tend to like raise our voice and start talking louder as if volume is the problem when it’s just that they’re not native speakers.

This is sort of a similar idea, right? That the idea that if we just keep having meetings, we will improve our communication and clarity, but that’s not actually the way it works.

Kyle: Yeah, because there’s underlying issues with the communication within it that a meeting does not solve.

Jeff: I would say if you’re doing things for those reason, if you could identify it, then that’s just the signal that something else is broken. But we can get into that. Can you think of specific examples of bad or worthless meetings that we should try to avoid?

Kyle: I would put bad meetings into three categories. Number one is meetings that are purely functioning around information distribution. And by that I mean somebody has information and they need to distribute that information out to a team, something like that. And they decided to have a meeting to do that. That might be a kickoff meeting for a new project. It might be a project update, something along those lines. But there are really two reasons that that is a bad way to function, is that number one is really, it’s just whoever has that information trying to take the work off of themselves of finding a good way to communicate that information out to the team.

easy to just put a meeting on your calendar and then show up at it and need to find a way to talk through whatever it is you’re doing.

Jeff: You didn’t have to prep, you didn’t have to put together a a concise presentation. You know, the, the famous, is it Mark Twain? I don’t know who said, you know, I, sorry for the long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short one. Right. It’s that idea. Basically it’s laziness. By scheduling the meeting, your job is effectively done because you can go in and wing it.

And I think this is particularly common, frankly, among marketers, because marketers are good communicators, sometimes very charismatic, quick on their feet, and so they can use this as a crutch.

Kyle: Yeah. A type of meeting that might fit, this is like a kickoff meeting for a new project and you know, you might say, Oh, well, we need to do brainstorming, need to get everybody’s input on that. All those things.

But a lot of people on your team, they are not as quick at thinking on their feet. They need time to take in information, think on it, dwell on it. So if you’re saying, oh, we’re having a kickoff meeting to discuss this, then you’re just kind of putting everybody but yourself on the back foot of, you know, they’re coming to this information new.

So their ability to really give any good input is gonna be really hindered.

Jeff: Yeah, and you’re also sort of favoring the extroverts.

Kyle: Yeah.

Jeff: So people who want to speak up, people who are verbal communicators all those things.

Kyle: And it, and it loses a lot of potential innovation because you’re just going to lean on what’s worked before because you don’t really have time to think. New ways to handle it.

Jeff: Yeah. Good stuff. What’s another example?

Kyle: So the second category I would say is information seeking meetings. . This is where you or whoever is planning this meeting, are curious about something so you set up a meeting to try to gather that information. And a lot of times this is check in meetings of what’s the status on that project, what have you. And it really is kind of the direct opposite of the laziness from the information distribution ones. Cuz usually it’s the laziness of whoever’s doing the project.

It’s kind of a forcing mechanism of ”I don’t think they’ve done the work that they’re supposed to do, so if I set a meeting, then that’s forcing them to have that figured out before we meet.”

Jeff: So you’re transferring the work to somebody, well, you’re creating new work for somebody else.

Kyle: Yeah.

Jeff: Because now they have to prepare, which maybe still needs to happen, but doesn’t necessarily have to be delivered in the meeting. Right? Like the time they spent preparing to give you your update and your check-in meeting.

It could have just been an email.

Kyle: And it usually is indicative of a bigger problem in the clarity and transparency on that project. That there’s a reason why whoever’s creating that meeting is feeling like they’re in the dark. That probably could be handled in a different way long before that feeling of creating the meeting even comes up.

Jeff: That’s probably true and I want to come back to that. So I want to hear your third example of a bad meeting. But then I wanna come back to what you just said a little

Kyle: Okay. So number one, information distribution. Number two is information seeking. And number three is a very large bucket, but it’s just meetings without agendas. So this is your standing meetings. This is your cross-functional meetings where, you know, marketing and sales just gets together weekly, whatever that might be, but, what ends up happening a lot of the time is that you’ve got this meeting on your schedule that no one really owns.

Nobody really is driving the agenda for it. No one really has a purpose for it. So then a bunch of people, like oftentimes these are meetings that have five plus participants, and then it’s just wasting an hour of a bunch of people’s time because you don’t really have anything to discuss.

And I think why these end up happening is that they’re usually good natured. It’s, oh, hey, sales and marketing aren’t talking to each other enough. We’re not collaborating enough, so let’s just force it by putting a time on everyone’s calendar where we’re forced to talk to each other. Or it is with projects, things like that, it might be your standup meeting, which standup meetings can be very effective.

But if it’s just, hey, we don’t think that we are doing our work and that we’re not getting that kind of out of the door in places where we can see it. So let’s bring everybody together to try to force that work to happen.

Jeff: Yeah, so all of these, all these three that you listed, all these examples seem to fit into this category of they seem like work. They appear to be work. I’m at work, or I’m focused on work at a meeting, but I’m not actually doing the work. I’m doing things other than the work, right? So that’s one reason why they’re so popular is because they feel like work.

They’re, they’re, they’re masquerading as work, but they’re not, it’s not really focused on what you’re actually trying to accomplish.

Kyle: Yeah, it’s one of the clearest cut examples of performative work that when someone looks at your calendar and sees that it’s filled with meetings, then no one’s doubting that you are putting in a lot of time. So that can be a replacement for the actual work a lot of the time.

Jeff: And it also makes you sort of feel important.

Kyle: Mm-hmm.

Jeff: If people can’t squeeze time into your schedule Now, I wanted to go back, so you, you talked about three types of bad meetings, information distribution meetings, information seeking meetings, meetings without agendas. And I can see why you pointed out that those are bad and we should try to avoid them, but like if we get back to the root of why we’re having meetings is because we’re human beings.

And sometimes it’s just nice to see the whites of somebody’s eyes. It’s inspiration, it’s motivation, it’s, you know, all these sort of other subtle human parts of the relationship. You know, building trust, building trust. Humans did not develop, you know, sort of evolve to build trust with each other remotely.

We evolved much more to build intimacy in person. So I guess what I’m trying to wrap my head around a little bit here is if we have these three types of bad meetings when do I know or what are the signals that it’s okay to have a meeting because they’re doing more than just, they’re, they’re more than just an excuse, comfort or a habit or all those sorts of things, but that they’re actually, I’m take, I’m doing it because I’m trying to take advantage of my humanity.

Does that make sense?

Kyle: And I, I definitely don’t think that all meetings are bad. I don’t think that the goal is to get every meeting off of your calendar. I do think, perhaps, the good meetings don’t really feel like meetings, like, you know, it’s an hour blocked off on your calendar or something like that. But usually they’re a lot more for collaboration, creation, expanding ideas and concepts I think of the old idea in universities of whiteboard meetings, it’s when you’re standing next to each other and writing out ideas and expounding on them. Usually those are the types of things that it’s really useful to be able to get that direct feedback from each other. And, know, if you’re working remote, there’s plenty of valuable ways that you should be interacting with your whole team to get that camaraderie, to make sure that everybody’s not just sitting alone in their house for eight hours every day without talking to anybody. But it’s the meaningful intention behind doing that is the important piece of it.

I don’t think that most of the meetings on people’s calendar really even accomplish those things. So it’s not like just filling your day with bad meetings isn’t going to just, by chance, also make it so that you feel like you have a good human connection with your coworkers.

Jeff: Right. And in fact, as I think through this, as you were talking, I am thinking, these are really, what are the signals that a meeting is good or bad? And you know, that whiteboard meeting idea, like if I’m not energized by the meeting, if I don’t feel like I’m leaning physically into the meeting, if I’m not contributing, if it’s not energizing. There’s a pretty good chance that the, it’s not necessary to be a meeting.

Now, there’s probably some finance meetings that don’t fit that bill, but you know what I’m saying? I’m saying that, I guess just to say it like you could, I could imagine a world where a kickoff meeting could be valuable, not from an information distribution standpoint, but from I can look into the whites of your eyes, see that you understand where we’re headed.

I can convey sort of some energy, some emotion, these pieces to get you excited. But it’s not about information. It’s about that more of like rallying the troops. And so I guess as much as, you know, we’ve listed these categories, it’s all, there’s still shades of gray, obviously, as there always is to, to figure out if it’s a good or really a good or bad meeting.

Kyle: And I think another way to think about it in terms of the energy concept, all of those pieces there was a lot of talk, especially during covid of zoom fatigue, that it was really hard on you to like have your camera on all day, all of those types of things. And there’s other details than having your camera on. Like, that puts more pressure on, you know, women generally to get ready in the mornings. All of those things. So there’s other parts of it, but a lot of organizations decided the way to fight that was to make it optional, to have your cameras on during meetings.

And to me, the way more obvious thing is that they probably don’t need to be in that meeting at all. If there’s not a benefit to being able to see the person on the other side of the conversation, talk to them, interact with them, all of those types of things, then instead of just, oh, sit in the meeting with your camera off, it’s probably your time is better spent elsewhere anyway.

Jeff: Yeah, use another tool. There are other tools and I, I mean, I personally, and you know this Kyle, I am completely anti camera off and, and frankly even conference calls at, at our company, the camera is always on and if you feel fatigued, it’s a sign that you have way too many meetings.

Not that the problem is the camera, because the point of the meeting is to be able to feel that energy and, you know, obviously remote, you know, zoom and other tools make it easier than ever to do that. And I’ve been on so many calls where we spend five minutes, 10 minutes introducing everybody and then they mute the call and then you never hear from them again.

It’s like, why did I, why are you on this call? I was on a call with a corporate marketing department with like eight people. Three people spoke. What is the point of all this? It doesn’t make, it’s a vast waste of resources for the company and a vast waste of energy and time and talent for those that are participating.

Kyle: Yeah, and the reason that those other five were on the call was because they felt like they were missing something by not spending that hour just listening in on a call, even if they weren’t really listening to it. Being able to be visible, being able to get that information, like they must feel like they’re not going to get that information in any other way, so that they need to be there to protect themselves.

Jeff: Yeah, and I, I think marketing leaders, like in that example, the CMO for this large corporation was on the call. And so they’re all there because she’s there and she asked them to be there. And I would just say that the responsibility was really on that marketing leader to make sure the right people are in the room and or shut the hell up and draw insights out from the rest of the team.

You know, have clarity as a leader as to why they’re in that meeting. And then it’s your responsibility as the leader to tease it out of them and get their engagement. That’s your job.

Kyle: That’s exactly right. And I want to talk a little bit about some tactics to avoid meetings. And one thing that I think is really important when it comes to that is that your sphere of influence as a marketing leader might not extend far enough to fully combat this problem, but it’s something that -you can have these tools. First of all, for yourself and as a leader, you need to be implementing them for your team and being really protective of that, and make sure that you’re empowering everyone on your team, not just for internal department meetings, but be communicating out to the rest of your organization that this is how we as a department treat meetings, this is how you should expect to hear from my team. If you’re inviting them to certain types of meetings. You need to be very protective of your team’s time.

Jeff: I love that you can create a owner’s manual for your team. How other teams should interact with your team. How, how the marketing department handles meetings,

right? I love that.

Kyle: Yeah. So to talk through that, I think that if you’re looking at your calendar, if you’re looking at your team’s calendar and how you should be approaching things, there’s really three questions that you should be asking yourself. Number one? And it’s the easiest is just what meetings don’t need to happen.

It’s okay to say no to a meeting. That shouldn’t be an issue. So if you know that going to that meeting is either you can’t provide value to it and you’re not going to get value from it, then you should just say no.

Jeff: Yeah. And until you do, people will just blindly add you. Because they think, they think they’re being nice. It’s really all a reciprocity issue where, as humans, we feel like we’re trying to treat others like we’d wanna be treated.

And of course, inclusion is a key part of that. So you just don’t wanna fall victim to that and end up being part of a media, you know, means you don’t need to be part of or inviting others to be part of it.

Kyle: I think that’s an interesting psychological point too, because everybody remembers when they first joined a corporation, started working in their professional life. That was one of the first signs to yourself that you were bringing value was that you started getting invites to meetings.

Like that’s a very powerful emotion when you’re first starting out and you know that emotion might not leave even though you don’t actually wanna spend the time in that meeting.

Jeff: That’s so good. That is so good. I think deep seated, you know, in the deep seated psyche of humans. That’s the kind of stuff that we’re dealing with here. We’re not, we’re not actually planning out our meetings, whether they’re information or distribution or whatever meetings or kickoff means or whatever we’re doing it on, how it makes us feel as people, and whether it makes us feel important or not.

Kyle: Yeah, totally. So the second question that I would say you should be asking yourself is what meetings can happen asynchronously, or what pieces of meetings can happen asynchronously. And asynchronous, meaning, the participants aren’t in the same time together, they are doing their pieces of it at separate times.

And one thing that I think is really useful that I utilize a lot myself is to present ideas asynchronously. So a lot of times when I have a lot of information to present, I like to record a loom video of myself with the presentation so that it can be practiced and contained. It gets transcribed, all of those pieces, and then people can take their own time to sit down, take it in, and then we’ll usually have a shorter meeting later on after everyone’s had time to intake the information to discuss it and to work through it. And it makes it a lot more valuable time in that, you know, 30 minutes to discuss through it than if we had taken an hour and a half to go over the information and discuss it afterwards.

Jeff: Right, because you’re going straight to the collaboration in the in-person part, straight to the collaboration, the creation, the expansion of ideas, all that stuff, and not on distributing information. And just to point out that everybody loves your Loom videos. It’s a practice in general that we’ve adopted.

And, and, but when I talk to the clients that we work with, they often are telling me of some Loom video that they watched, you know, late at night or early in the morning that Kyle had sent the day before or something like that.

Kyle: And I think that that’s a really important piece of it because it also, you get to be in the of mind state and context to take in that information, which it’s not a guarantee that whenever that meeting was scheduled that you’ll be in the state that you need to be to fully understand it and, you know start to think about it.

Jeff: You’re saying that the meeting quote, the meeting attendee , or the meeting victim or whatever you wanna call ‘em, they get to choose you’re gi, you’re empowering them to engage with the information when they’re ready to engage with the information. Instead of Thursdays at 9:00 AM when you’re maybe stressed out because you’re, you had to drop a crying kid off at preschool.

Kyle: Yep. And the other thing that I would say that is a tool to happen asynchronously, which really goes into the third question, but it’s using systems to distribute updates on projects. So if you’re just trying to get information about a project, or anything like that. What you really should be looking at is how can we start building out systems so that the updates on that project start to get distributed naturally so that anytime that you’re curious about the state of something, you can then look to that without needing to take in somebody else’s time

Jeff: So at a simple, just to make sure, in our simple system, we have a handoff sort of system on our project management, for example. And so we always know who’s responsible. And when that person is done with their task and they’re handing it off to the next person, they leave a little note. And that allows anybody from a manager or the person they’re handing the work off to to sort of get caught up without having to have a conversation.

And they, they can have a conversation, but that conversation would be more in the collaboration, creation, or expansion of ideas instead of the basics. Right.

Kyle: Exactly. I, I love the idea of self-documenting work. So as you’re doing those handoffs to each other, then you’re creating the history of that project. And then at any point in time you can go through and look through the history. And that’s also super useful for postmortems, things like that.

If a project went wrong, you can then start to look at what went wrong on that project and how can we fix it.

Jeff: Yep. As a leader, I love that, but I also think that just empowering people to control their day by working more asynchronously is super powerful and frankly, a, a powerful tool in re recruiting and retaining talent. Cuz the best people don’t want to be tracking their life in six minute increments and you know, that sort of thing.

Kyle: And that goes into the third question that you should be asking yourself. So number one is what meetings don’t need to happen? Number two is what meetings can happen asynchronously. Number three is what systems can you implement to replace meetings? So that is, as we are just talking about kind of project management and that is a huge topic that we’ll probably discuss soon, but the ways that your project management can make information more visible and transparent and trying to empower your team to be looking at that information, getting that so that nobody feels like they’re left out and that they don’t have the ability to input on a project.

But the other thing that you should be really looking at is internal communication that gets broadcast out from your department. So how are you giving out information to your sales team, to your leadership, to other departments so that they’re not putting meetings on marketing people’s calendars, just to try to get that information.

How can you be mass communicating those things in a cadence that makes it so that they’re not asking those questions?

Jeff: And Star Startup Land. You know, investor updates are a thing, right? Like monthly updates. We all should be doing investor updates or stakeholder updates. Just that alone would probably take about half the meetings off your , off your calendar.

Kyle: Yeah, exactly.

Jeff: Well, I’ll just tell you like the thing I mostly took away from this conversation is that if I want to avoid endless meetings, it’s really not about the meetings themselves or not just about the meetings.

It’s a holistic approach of looking at sort of the, my systemic issues from the cultural thing. Elements like you pointed out to the project management systems and making it all work together. So, I ultimately have fewer meetings and can spend more on time just adding value to others.

Kyle: Yeah. And. What I would say is that it’s really less about the meetings and more about the trigger. If you think of what caused this person to put this meeting onto a calendar, that’s usually what you should be looking at. That’s where your attention should be focused to try to make it so that those types of meetings don’t need to happen in the future.

Jeff: Why the heck is this meeting on my calendar? What triggered this meeting? What prompted this? How can I avoid that because if I avoid that, I avoid endless meetings.

Kyle: That’s right. Thank you all for listening today. If you want to get more content like this directly in your inbox, be sure to sign up for the unReactive newsletter at upMarketer.Io. And if you have any topics you’d like to hear discussed, please reach out to us on our website or social media. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for chatting today, Jeff.

Jeff: Thanks, Kyle, as always.

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