I hate meetings. Long or short, large or small, food or no food, outside or inside, morning or afternoon – it doesn’t matter. Meetings drain the life out me, and I’m guessing most of you feel the same. There’s even a book called, Meetings Suck.
Unfortunately, meetings often resort to nothing more than a group of unproductive people, sitting around a table with other unproductive people, discussing how they wish everyone else would be more productive. It’s no wonder we hate meetings.
The Most Important Meeting of Your Week
I could go on about how meetings are a waste of time and site research on why we should eliminate meetings, but I’ll save that for another post.
This post is about the one crucial meeting that, if utilized well, can be the most productive meeting you’ll ever have – Your meeting with your assistant. As much as meetings can be an energy-suck, this meeting is absolutely necessary.
Why? It’s crucial for you to be on the same page with your assistant. No one on your team can have a more positive – or negative – impact on your job. A regular, weekly meeting helps you and your assistant stay productive, work together, and be strategic about what’s ahead.
In an ideal scenario (remember you’re the boss, so you can create the ideal scenario), you should meet with your assistant once a week, for about an hour. Some weeks you’ll need to meet for 1.5 – 2 hours (like after a vacation or extended holiday). Other weeks you’ll only need 20 minutes.
Ideally this meeting takes place in person. That said, a phone or Skype call is ok from time to time – or it may have to be all the time, if you have a virtual assistant.
I recommend having this weekly meeting at the beginning of your work week, first thing in the morning. This helps you and your assistant prioritize what you’re going to work on that week.
I also recommend you leave margin for a quick 10-15 minute phone call in the middle of the week, and one at the end of the week as well. It’d be a good idea to put these sync-ups on the calendar so you don’t forget about them.
What To Talk About?
One of the most painful experiences is showing up to a meeting with no agenda. We can’t let that happen when we meet with our assistant, or anyone else for that matter. In fact, we should never schedule a meeting with no agenda.
A simple way to build your meeting agenda is to email your assistant agenda items as they come up. Your assistant shouldn’t reply to these emails, but instead assimilate the items into a list. Then, about 24 hours prior to each meeting, your assistant can send you the agenda items for the next day’s meeting.
When you meet, your assistant can pull the list up and ask you about each item, one by one, in a rapid-fire manner. As you explain what needs to happen, your assistant can take notes on any pertinent details.
Don’t spend too much time on each item. Simply clarify what needs to be done, who is responsible to make it happen, and when it needs to be done. Then move on to the next item.
At the end of the meeting – or by the end of that day at the latest – your assistant should send you a list of your specific action items and deadlines.
Keep It Simple
There are hundreds of tools you can use to organize agenda items. Feel free to use whichever tool you and your assistant prefer, as long as it’s simple. In other words, neither of you should spend more time organizing agenda items than it takes to complete those same items.
Personally, I prefer a simple, two-column google sheet. You can get a copy of my template here. It’s simple, but very effective. My former boss and I used this template, or a variation of it, for 5+ years. Within the sheet, I’ve included instructions and examples on how you can use it. Grab a copy of it here.
You can do all of the above but still not get anything done – if you don’t pay attention during the meeting. So stay focused! You can’t afford not to. If it’s a phone call meeting, don’t read your twitter feed during the call. If it’s in person, leave your phone in your pocket. Give your assistant your full attention and not only will your meetings be shorter, but they’ll be much more productive.
Try this out for a few weeks and let me know how it goes! I’m confident you’ll be more productive and maybe even hate meetings less. Well, this meeting at least. Of course, you could implement your newfound meeting strategy and tool in all the other meetings you have to attend. Go ahead, try it out. What’s the worst that could happen? You realize you don’t even need half of the meetings on your calendar?
Are you overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout? I help leaders find, equip, and empower an assistant to gain more time, energy, and success! Click here to learn more about my coaching services.