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This simple strategy may eliminate most, if not all, of your meetings

Experience design leader Klaus Heesch explains how leaders can effectively influence and bring people together, collaborate across functions and departments, and get consensus and buy-in without requiring yet another meeting.

This simple strategy may eliminate most, if not all, of your meetings
[Source images: porcorex/Getty Images]

These strange and uncertain times have many of us struggling with the work environment. We are all impacted personally by the events of the last two years, and the shifting in norms for the collective can make it challenging to build and foster a sense of culture.

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But whether we’re going to be in-person or remote, one thing is for sure: There are too many meetings.

Everyone is operating on varied schedules, so meetings are difficult to plan. Even planning and making sure there’s an agenda and clear goals can take time. Thus, there are meetings to plan for meetings. Meetings to synthesize the meetings.

How many of us have had the fortune of a “no-meeting” day designation company-wide only to find yourself using that day as the time to meet because well, it’s the one day of the week that there are no other meetings.

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There is a way leaders can effectively influence and bring people together around an idea, or encourage collaboration across functions and departments, and get consensus and buy-in without requiring yet another meeting.

Short-form video is the answer.

Imagine getting your ideas—all the thoughts that you’d want to share if you were getting folks together—out and onto paper. Then, making a short video presentation. Then distribute via email or Slack or whatever channel your collaborators use.

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Voilà! A crisp walkthrough of the idea that your collaborators can digest on their own time.

There are two main types of short-form videos.

The 4-minute update (Informative)

If you want to see a master of short-form storytelling, just spend a few minutes watching Disney’s Chairman of Parks, Josh D’Amaro, do a walk and talk video. It’s a short update for Disney cast members (employees) and guests about what’s happening in the parks. It’ll leave you with an impression that this leader–and this company–cares genuinely for its employees, and that there is fun and innovative stuff happening at the parks.

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Sounds easy right? Well, it is. In that video above, D’Amaro even gives away the secret ingredients. You need some notes/talking points, and someone to hold the phone for you.

The Thought-Starter

It doesn’t all have to be a talking head video. It doesn’t even have to be an update. It can be a thought-starter that will help gather input and feedback that you can use to inform the next, big meeting that will eventually bring people together. In that case, you can take your presentation deck and turn it into a short-form video. My team at Light CoCreative made a 2-minute video out of a 4-page deck as a way to gauge interest and collect ideas and inspirations around the topic of food and finance.

There are other types of videos, including a product or experience demo or an inspirational feature, but no matter what the nature of your meeting replacement video, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

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Keep it brief

No more than five minutes.

But also, make sure to request the feedback/input you need by a certain time. You are being respectful of everyone’s calendar by not calling a meeting, and in return, you should expect that they’ll respond within a reasonable time frame.

Start with value

Be clear and direct about what this video is intending to communicate. Help your audience know why this matters by listing your key points in the first slide, or mentioning them at the start. 

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As with any storytelling, build a story arch that engages your colleagues and doesn’t spend much or any time at all covering the things that the team is already aware of.

Make it visual

It doesn’t always have to be just your face on the screen. Perhaps you alternate between you talking and showing the content. Overlay keywords, thoughts, and phrases over the video. Some subtle transitions can help keep viewers engaged. 

Just don’t overwhelm. A few words and supporting points on the screen at any time is all that’s needed. And whatever you do, do not just show a slide and read the slide. That’s a no-no for any presentation.

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Don’t show and tell, show and ask

Just like any effective communication, you need a call to action. If you are seeking feedback or consensus, be clear about the ask.

If you are presenting a thought-starter or concept that will lead to discovery and discussion, don’t offer up a bunch of solutions. Frame the problem and lay out the options. Engage the viewers and create space for them to see themselves and their own ideas/solutions being connected. End it with an invitation for viewers to comment. 

Be specific about how you want to receive comments and feedback. Is it an email reply to you directly? Or with everyone on cc? Or is there a form (link) or a number to call? 

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If the intention is to have an open feedback discussion, perhaps you post the video and the request for feedback in a Slack channel or another chat thread. If you are wanting to get folks’ personal opinions and thoughts in a manner that allows you to synthesize them before taking the next step, then ask them to respond directly via email. Another option would be to create a form (Google Forms or Typeform are two good options).

Finally, be clear about who this video is intended for. Just as most meetings are private and meeting notes are not distributed widely, so too, your short-form meeting-saving video might not be right for distribution either. If that’s the case, state it clearly in the delivery. Mark the video as “unlisted,” only viewable by users that you specify, and/or password protected if you are able.

By giving your team the ability to review and respond on their own time, you’ll be seen as a leader who is mindful of their workload, respectful of their thoughts and opinions, inclusive, and open to asynchronous collaboration.

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Klaus Heesch is head of Optimism & Sustainable Growth, an Experience Design leader, speaker, and happiness practitioner.


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