How to improve the quality of your meetings


Yes! you need meetings and they are important

Maybe you hate meetings, maybe we all hate them but something is true and it is in most of the jobs your are going to face them.

This post is to share my experience after being part of development teams following scrum framework.

You have a bunch of meetings for every step of the workflow process

By the time I’m writing this I realized scrum doesn’t sounds like a good methodology to follow but thrust me it’s great if you know to use it.


The participants of the meetings

If you want improve your meetings, you should know the actors. In order to know how to deal with them we can categorize the participants in four types:


These are the ones who are throwing ideas, proposing new things, making plans and raising the hand to express their opinion, it is always have one or more of this type but your are going to need how to handle the enthusiasm.


The participants of this type are optimistic and want to learn, listening the others, taking notes and figuring out how much knowledge are going to recollect from the meeting, they have a great attitude but sometimes they are shy and need help to express their ideas.


They are going to stop in the kitchen before the meeting to have a soda and a popcorn bag, they don’t want to go but they are happy to get out of their daily job.

Sometimes they have something to add but if you don’t gave them a motivation you will have a popcorn eater enjoying the fights between the explorers.


The name is obvious, they have a bad attitude, they are going to hate every second of the meeting, they don’t want to be in the meeting but maybe they are correct

Maybe they should not be there, the meeting can be unnecessary or useless. Don’t just judge them and try to figure out what is happening.


How to improve

These advice are from the perspective of an scrum master who is responsible for organize meetings but you can apply the guidance for your meetings.

Feel free to apply only the ideas you need or tweak them to fit into the mechanics of your company.


The purpose of the meetings

Maybe this sounds obvious but very often with the heat of meetings they miss the purpose.

If you are going to arrange a meeting you must set an objective to reach with the event and don’t let the attendees change the path set for the meeting.

You can visualize the meeting like a mini project where you have a goal and you must reach it.

Another common situation where the meetings lose the purpose is when they never had a solid purpose, very often you don’t need a ceremony to communicate a reached milestone or a corporate decision, companies do it all the time but it is more a tradition than a real need.

If the meeting has a weak objective you only are going to win a big number of vacationers and prisoners.


Don’t be polite

Specially if you are in the IT business and you are in a small team, it’s common to invite the whole team to all meetings, sometimes because the unity of the team, sometimes is an habit but almost always is an error.

If  somebody doesn’t need to attend the meetings  you don’t have to require them.

You are going to lose working time of the participant and you are degrading the environment of the meeting adding a prisoner who doesn’t want to be there.

Choose wisely and remember you are trying to achieve a goal and you need to pick the best elements to accomplish it.


Becoming a talent judge and learning to say no

The best way I found to express this is making a reference to those talent shows on the TV, you have to transform yourself into a talent judge.

The explorers are always adding ideas to the meetings, throwing concepts to the table and filling the air with a good mood, this is great but there is a moment when you have to say stop or no.

All the ideas are valuable but some are unreachable, out of the place or maybe the attendees are looking for another answer and your challenge is face the explorers and handle the enthusiasm.


Encourage the shoppers

The participants of the meeting are a team trying to hit a target and all the members of the team must participate and your job is extract the value of every member in the ceremony.

The shoppers are already there trying to learn but if you push them to the spot light maybe you will have a nice surprise.


Be dynamic and ask the right questions

This also sounds obvious but you must remember conducting a meeting can be similar to driving in the high way or being in a surgery. You need to be precise and apply the right move in the right time.

Before enter in the meeting you must have a plan to squish the attendees trying to get the best answers or ideas to achieve the goal you previously shared with the people involved.

Being dynamic is the best way to avoid the vacationers and regulate the euphoria of the explorers.

Asking the right questions to the right people will reduce the prisoners and facilitate the participation  of the shoppers.



Performing a retrospective about this post, the ESVP classification was created to categorize the attendees of the retrospective meetings under scrum ceremonies.

In my opinion I consider they can be applied  to meetings in other areas.

I will be happy if you found empathy and this works as a catharsis session for you.

Remember, these are not rules written in stone and you can adjust them to your environment.


Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

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