Hate Meetings? Let's Fix Them. Here's How.

The way we do meetings today is broken. Meetings at most organizations are PowerPoint-driven lectures, structured to offer little opportunity to get real work done and real decisions made.

But there is an alternative. The flipped meeting – pioneered by innovative companies like Amazon and LinkedIn, and built on the model of the flipped classroom that has been rolled out in universities across the country and around the world.

The flipped meeting approach is revolutionary in its simplicity:

  • Share the informational presentation before the meeting so participants are fully informed up front
  • Focus the meeting on making decisions, opening discussion, and getting work done in the meeting, not afterwards.

Sounds easy? It is. And here’s how you do it.

The secret to success is preparation. To flip your next meeting, there are three essential elements you’ll need to have ready to share ahead of time:

  1. Your goal(s). Be specific — tell your group what work do you want to get done and what decisions do you want made by the time the meeting ends.
  2. Your materials. The point of meeting as a group is to work through something, so you’ll want a discussion guide prepared in advance. Give people the information they need in order to participate in an informed way, with enough time to reasonably review it all.

The single most critical part of every flipped meeting

While it may seem obvious, actually sharing enough information ahead of time so attendees can make informed decisions is the most crucial part of any flipped meeting. Often organizations steeped in the old model of top-down information don’t share enough up front, and aren’t able to reap the benefits of flipping.

To help ensure your team is offering enough information, start by working from this six-part information sharing framework:

  • Context or Question: In 1-2 sentences, what is the issue that must be resolved or action that must be taken?
  • Larger Vision: What are the overall objectives that describe at a high level what success looks like?
  • Tenets: What are the enduring, guiding principles for our organization we will use to evaluate this decision or work?
  • Assumptions: What are the fundamental assumptions made in formulating options? What are the key facts relevant to the decision or work at hand?
  • Options: What are the main alternative options available? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • Recommendation: Which option do you recommend for the audience? Why? What are the next steps?

When the meeting begins

While a flipped meeting requires a little more work up front, you’ll reap the rewards during the session. The key is that your role now is not to lecture, but to guide the discussion and work.

A few tips to keep your flipped meeting running efficiently:

  • Start with 5-7 minutes for independent review of the meeting materials.
  • Assign someone to take notes.
  • Define the objective of the meeting you’re holding, and repeat the goal.
  • Open the floor to discussion and work.
  • Close discussion when decision is made, work complete, or further progress is impossible.
  • Summarize key outcomes and decisions in a follow-up message.

Make it all easier – with video

Want to make flipping your meetings even easier? The tool is often right in front of you – in the video camera on your laptop or smartphone.

Video can be used to support and simplify almost every aspect of a flipped meeting. There are three tasks in particular where video will make your life much easier.

  1. Send Pre-Meeting Materials by Video. Record a quick video presentation of your materials – just as a screen capture of your deck, with a webcam stream of you sharing. A brief, 4-6 minute video overview can help familiarize your audience with your topic, and give you a means to drive home top points to consider.
  2. Post-meeting summary/action items. A post-meeting email wrap up identifying action items, deliverables, and points of accountability is essential to keeping the work moving. But getting all that from your notes into email takes time. A better option? A video recap! When your meeting wraps, take a moment with your laptop or smartphone webcam and record yourself summarizing your discussion and detailing decisions and next steps. And if you’ve used a whiteboard to take notes, you can even capture the details recorded there too.

As with any new process, look for opportunities to optimize the way your team flips its meetings—to save even more time, get even more done, and make even more happen.

Need a video platform that can help make flipping your meetings easy? Contact Panopto today for a free trial, and don’t forget to download “Turn Your Meeting On Its Head,” our complete guide to flipping meetings.

Published: March 19, 2014