Meetings are part of the business: even indie game producers have to get out of the box and stop staring the computer screen all the time. For team leaders it’s natural to arrange meetings. Here’s 7 guidelines for arranging better meetings.
Guideline #1 – Don’t have a meeting just a sake of meeting
Unnecessary meetings are just that: not necessary. There’s plenty of managers who think that because office rules says “weekly meeting must be arranged” then weekly meeting must be arranged. Even agile game developers might arrange useless weekly meetings and call them “proven method for productivity”. I’m not saying that weekly meetings are wrong to do, I’m just saying that weekly meetings that are done just for the sake of having a weekly meeting hardly brings much value. The agile developers who use weekly meetings “properly” don’t spend 2 hours just for sake of chatting. If there’s nothing to chat, the meeting lasts only 5 minutes.
Guideline #2 – Start on time
Very important. Suppose you have a team of 6 people. Every time meeting starts 7 minutes late that’s 42 minutes (possibly) wasted time. Suppose 40 weeks – and every week somebody is 7 minutes late – means 1680 minutes wasted. That’s 28 hours wasted – almost one work week, just for the reason that somebody is late.
Guideline #3 – Finish on time
I don’t suggest that every meeting should be stopped when the clock ticks, but I think it’s important to deal with the agenda in timely manner. If the first issues get too much time, then the last issue will be dealt very badly – or not at all. I really think the meetings should not slip from the end. Instead – arrange enough time to deal with the issues rather than always saying “1 hour meeting” that in reality lasts 2 hours.
Guideline #4 – One leads the discussion
Linked to the point #3: somebody should lead the discussion and move to the next issues if necessary. If nobody controls the meeting… then it can easily lead to situation where people discuss many, many things not related to the meeting.
Guideline #5 – No too many issues in agenda
Don’t take too many topics in one meeting. It’s better to focus on few things rather than chase many rabbits. Overbooked agenda can easily lead to too long meetings or bad results.
Guideline #6 – Avoid ‘Will be agreed on the next meeting’ agreements
This is one of the trickies pitfalls to avoid, but I really recommend making decisions when they are needed. Postponing anything to “next meeting” means piling up everything until it all comes a big pile of unfinished issues. Avoid this type of agreements whenever possible.
Guideline #7 – No talk about TV in meetings
It’s easy to get sidetracked and start talking about television shows, latest news, games, business, and pretty much everything else but meeting. I really recommend leaving this type of talk to some other time (like right after the meeting when you are short on coffee…). Any time somebody starts talk about “good movies” it means your meeting is about to lose the value.