The 5 key points Harold makes are:

1. Re-frame meetings
2. Improve meeting hygiene
3. Agree to a team charter
4. Do I need to be here?
5. Challenge the "One Hour Meeting"

Ask your question: http://www.drharoldhillman.com/ask-harold.html
YouTube Link: 5 Tips for a Better Meeting | Ask Harold, Episode 15

Ask Harold Episode 15 Transcript:

Today I’ll answer a question from a viewer who is spending way too much time in unproductive meetings. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that dilemma. So let’s get into it.

Hi everybody, Harold Hillman here. And thank you for joining me on episode 15 of Ask Harold. Today’s question is from Tina who is facing one of those work challenges that we all encounter at some point: too much time in meetings where very little gets done.

Tina’s sent us this question and it’s a great one to feature on this episode:

Hello Harold,

I became a team leader 6 months ago which means I am now on 2 teams: the management team and the team that I lead. The number of meetings that I have to attend has gone up dramatically, sometimes eating up huge chunks of time across my day and week.

I need time to meet with each of my team members because that’s my main job to look after them. But now I have to meet with the other team leaders on project-related work which pulls me away from my team.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if I felt the meetings were productive. But they aren’t productive, which is very frustrating when time is so precious.

How would you recommend that I approach this problem before it gets worse,

Many thanks,


Well, hey Tina, thanks for that question – I can relate to that dilemma just like pretty much anybody else who’s watching this episode can. To some extent your life as a manager now means that you WILL be in more meetings. Meetings are just a fact of life – it’s how we operate in companies in order to move things along. And meetings certainly don’t have to be bad experiences, especially when everyone agrees to some basics that will make those meetings more productive.

So here are 5 things that I’ll ask you to consider:

1. The first is: reframe meetings. In my books I write about the power of frames, which are mental constructs in our head that determine whether we see something as positive or negative. Now people are inclined to see meetings as negative because, to Tina’s point, they do consume a lot of your time and energy.

But they can also be positive experiences. Make sure that you carry the right mindset into any meeting you attend. You can see the direct impact on the energy level at a meeting when people actually want to be there.

That leads me to the second point, which is:

2. Improve meeting hygiene. Sloppiness doesn’t work in any context whether it’d be at home or at work. Time is precious in our lives and it’s still considered a sign of respect to be prepared, efficient and effective in meetings. Especially given the demands on everybody’s schedules. So teams at all levels should focus on what I call the hygiene factors around meetings. Be prepared, which means doing any pre-work that’s required. Start on time, stick to an agenda, agree to what’s been agreed and next steps. All of those things lead to a better sense of traction both during and after the meeting. If you get the hygiene around meetings nailed, people will see the meetings in a more positive light. You might be the person who has to help the team see the connection.

3. Thirdly: agree to a team charter. Strong teams don’t leave their dynamic or their performance to chance. It’s good practice for any team to draft up a set of behaviors – call it your team charter – that defines how you operate, what you value and what you will and won’t tolerate in order to get the best work out of the team.

So draw up a team charter – it will make a tangible and positive difference to how the team operates.

4. The fourth thing: an important question, do I need to be here? Sometimes there are way too many people in a meeting. If you and your manager are at the same meeting, the question should be – why? Same thing if you are team leader – why are you and your direct report invited to the same meeting? You can’t have good empowerment or delegation going on in the company if the entire chain of command is in the same room. Sometimes it’s warranted for important calibrations, but most of the time it’s not warranted.

If all you need to be is informed about something, then find a way to opt out of meetings where you’re adding absolutely no value.

5. Finally: challenge the one-hour meeting. I mean, whoever invented the one-hour meeting? It’s an inherent part of our business culture and, to some extent, our social culture. If you think about it, an hour is a long time – especially to deal with routine matters. If you lead a team, go to the 45-minute meeting with 15 minutes for personal reflection and down time before the next one starts. If you shave off 15 minutes from every hour-long meeting in your day, that means, on average, you probably end up with an additional 2 hours! Think about all the real work that you can get done with that time back.

Thanks again for that question, Tina, and thank you all for watching Ask Harold. On the next episode I will answer a question from a viewer who wants to climb the career ladder in his company, but he’s not sure where to start. I’ve definitely got some views on this topic – so be sure to tune in.

Remember: if you like this video, tell others about it and subscribe to Sigmoid’s YouTube channel. And if you have a question of your own, or want to see my other videos and articles, go to my blog at www.drharoldhillman.com

Take good care and see you all soon.