How to Run Efficient Meetings That Your Team Actually Enjoys

May 5, 2021 | Business, Leadership, Nonprofits

Efficient meetings are the unicorns of the business world. Everyone knows what one looks like, but do they really exist?

Most of the time, if someone in your office announces “we’re having a meeting”, the response is less than enthusiastic. No one wants to sit through another meeting that interrupts the actual work they need to be doing. No one wants to hear a leader drone on and on about a topic they aren’t interested in. No one wants to have even more projects/goals/initiatives added to their already-overloaded plate.

From the business owner’s perspective, meetings that involve that many employees can quickly become some of the most expensive blocks of time on the entire company’s calendar! The next time you’re in a large meeting, just imagine the thousands of dollars being paid to people who are simply sitting around a table talking. The longer it goes, and the less it accomplishes, the more expensive it gets.

Since we are a CPA firm that goes beyond just doing taxes—we actually provide businesses with a range of services to help them grow—we thought we’d share the pattern for team meetings that has transformed the way we operate.

How to Run Efficient Meetings

Years ago, we realized that our meetings were haphazard affairs that were taking up a lot of our time but weren’t helping us get much done. They rarely started on time and would often take longer than planned. The conversations frequently seemed to go down rabbit trails, and it was difficult to keep track of who was supposed to do what.

We needed to find a way of doing business that would give us a reliable framework from which to operate so that we could focus our time and energy on actually serving our clients and growing our business.

That’s when we discovered the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) model.

EOS is a framework for business that teaches (among other things) how to have a “Level 10 Meeting™.” If you were to poll most employees after a typical meeting, they would most likely rate it somewhere around a 4 on a scale of 1-10. When organizations design their meetings around the EOS model, they consistently get reviews between 8-10. (Rating each meeting at the end is part of the framework as you’ll see below.)

When your meetings are structured and predictable, your team will be much more engaged, much more productive, and much less likely to tune out and waste your time/money.

So here’s how it works. We’ll give you the framework, then unpack it in a minute.

The Basic Level 10 Meeting™ Framework

  1. Good News (5 minutes)
  2. Review Mode
    1. Scorecard (5 minutes)
    2. Rock Review (5 minutes)
    3. Headlines (5 minutes)
  3. To-do List (5 minutes)
  4. Issues List (60 minutes)
  5. Conclude (5 minutes)
    1. Recap To-dos
    2. Cascading Messages
    3. Rating 1-10

Before we get into the details of these steps, the first and most important part of Level 10 Meetings™ is that they start and end on time!

When you respect your employees’ time, they’ll return the favor with their attention and energy. If you schedule a 9:00 meeting, get there 5 minutes early for small talk and setup. As soon as the clock strikes 9, stop whatever you’re doing and begin the meeting.

The other non-negotiable of efficient meetings is that they end on time. Level 10 Meetings™ are designed to last exactly 90 minutes. When the time is up, the meeting ends. If you stick to the framework, you’ll accomplish 2-3x what your typical meetings used to get done.

Unpacking the Level 10 Meeting™

1. Share Good News (5 minutes)

This is also called the “Segue.” In these first 5 minutes, your team is able to go around the table sharing rapid-fire good news sound bites, both personal and professional. It gets everyone involved immediately and helps make the transition from whatever work they were doing before the meeting began.

2. Review Mode (15 minutes)

In this section, the goal is to make sure your company (or department) is on track. Any issues brought up here that need further discussion get moved into the Issues List for later in the meeting. There are 3 parts that take up 5 minutes each:

a. Scorecard

These are the hard numbers and metrics that help you measure success…things like number of calls made, number of sales, revenue brought in, hours worked on projects, etc. since the last meeting. This information should be compiled ahead of time and made available to all attendees.

b. Rocks

This is what the EOS model calls large projects and goals for each quarter. A simple 5 minute review of the “big picture” items (rocks) the team is working on helps remind everyone of the ultimate objectives.

c. Headlines

These 5 minutes are for sharing quick comments (note that they’re headlines…not full articles) on any news—good and bad—from customers and fellow employees.

3. To-do List (5 minutes)

As the meeting goes on, actionable items that come up are added here and assigned to someone right away. The goal for efficient meetings is that 90% of the “to-do” items from the previous week get “to-done”, as the EOS founders like to say.

4. Issues List (60 minutes)

Also known in the EOS model as IDS™, this is where your team will focus most of their time in the meeting. IDS™ stands for: Identify, Discuss, and Solve.

As issues come up during the course of the meeting that require further discussion, they get moved to this section.

To make this part of your meeting work efficiently, Identify which 3 topics are the most critical and rank them in order of importance. Then Discuss each issue as a team until you discover how to Solve the problem. The action steps of that solution then become To-Do List items to be resolved by someone before the next meeting.

Continue working down the list until all issues are resolved or the 60 minutes for this section run out. Issues are removed from the list when they are solved, are no longer important, or the reason they were added in the first place is forgotten (if that happens, it just means that it wasn’t a big deal to begin with).

5. Conclude (5 minutes)

The leader of the meeting needs to be mindful of the time. When there are 5 minutes remaining, he/she should end any IDS™ discussions and conclude the meeting.

Every efficient meeting should end with the same 3 steps:

  1. Recap To-Dos – Quickly read through the list you have been creating to make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what action items before the next meeting.
  2. Cascading Messages – This is the time for general announcements that need to go out to the rest of the team.
  3. Rate the Meeting 1-10 – Every attendee gives instant feedback on the meeting you’ve just had by rating it before it ends. The goal is to have meetings that score an 8-10. If anyone rates it less than an 8, find out why and discuss it quickly. Team members need to know that they have the freedom to speak openly in order to help the entire process improve.

Level 10 Meetings™ Simply Work!

This simple framework requires discipline and strict attention to time, but it pays by greatly increasing productivity. While other companies are talking in circles, your team can get things done!

To go into even more detail on how to run effective and efficient meetings, check out this free Effective Team Meeting Guide for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses from EOS.

To see one of the EOS founders explain the system you’ve just read about, take a look at this video.

And when you’re ready to expect more from your CPA, partner with a firm that goes beyond taxes to actually help you grow your business. Give us a call.

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