Not only this, but almost 50% of employees have stated that meeting attendees arriving late or leaving early is disruptive and a sign of a bad meeting. So, if the meeting slips one person’s mind then the chances are it’ll ruin it for at least half of the attendees.
So, how do meeting leaders combat this? Well, an effective meeting reminder is one way! Here are a few of the points that we’ve found must be present in a meeting reminder to help things run smoothly.
Check if the meeting is necessary
According to research led by Doodle, professionals around the world spend two hours every week in meetings that lack purpose. This adds up to 13 days a year spent in meetings that are a waste of time and could’ve easily been an email, quick call or Slack memo.
Therefore, before sending the meeting reminder it is a good idea to double check if the meeting is really needed. The last thing you want is a room full of people sitting around thinking “this meeting could have been an email…”
Meeting or email checklist
To help you decide whether your meeting needs to go ahead or whether it is one of those pesky meetings that could have been an email, we’ve put together the following checklist:
In the following scenarios, holding an in-person meeting or video conference is necessary.
- Your team has a project or campaign that needs to be brainstormed.
- You have complex questions that require input from several stakeholders and need to be answered by the end of the meeting.
- You have complex decisions that require input from several stakeholders and need to be reached by the end of the meeting.
- The information you need to share is sensitive, directly impacts the invited group and will lead to a number of follow up questions.
- A project needs to be dissected and delegated to a group of colleagues.
- You’re holding a presentation or seminar which can be discussed and during which questions regarding the contents can be asked. (It’s worth brushing up on how to correctly plan and give a presentation meeting before organising the discussion, to avoid wasting time.)
- You will be complex problem-solving.
- Routine and non-sensitive status updates or information needs to be shared.
- The planned meeting has no questions, decisions or actions that need to be settled.
- You’re holding a presentation or seminar which isn’t likely to produce a discussion e.g. simple information or reporting.
- Project kick-offs which are simple and everyone’s roles are decided.
- Easy-to-fix problem-solving.
An excellent rule of thumb to follow is that you should always have some materials or information to send out before calling a meeting. For example, with problem-solving meetings you need to have a set question or problem to solve by the end. If you don’t yet have this, then form one before booking the meeting.
Sending the meeting reminder
Now you’re sure your meeting is needed, you need to remind people what it is you want from them and when to attend. The following six points will help you to remind your team in a way that works:
Consistent reminders — but not spam
Sending one meeting reminder before the meeting is fine if you’re running a routine stand-up or small update, but for more complex meetings this won’t suffice.
Firstly, attendees need time to study and digest the meeting materials for a more complex meeting. This will mean that everyone present can contribute in a meaningful way, rather than listening to the information being read to them for the length of the meeting.
This means it’s best to send over the information that needs to be discussed as soon as possible. Preferably, you should send this info over with the initial invite but if this isn’t possible then it should be at least a couple of days in advance.
If you do manage to send the information sometime in advance, send a reminder to look over the materials a day or so before the meeting. This consistency will help to reach anyone with a packed schedule who may have missed the first reminder, which means there’s more of a chance your group will be prepared.
It is important to remember that most calendars will automatically remind participants if they have a meeting coming up around 15 minutes beforehand. So, sending an additional reminder could actually be more annoying than it is useful! Instead, focus your reminders on ensuring your attendees come prepared.
Your meeting reminder format is key
If a meeting reminder is formatted as a huge wall of text, chances are it won’t be read. Instead, keep your meeting reminder as a bullet point list to help people prepare.
This bullet point list should be short and sweet, as we will show in the following section.
It’s important to note, if there are action points needed from an individual in advance of the meeting, be sure to tag them next to the relevant bullet point. This will draw their attention towards it, and help introduce accountability for these actions. Again, it’s important to give adequate time to your team to complete these actions.
Include the relevant information in the meeting reminder
This is potentially the most important factor when it comes to your meeting reminder. Sure, a reminder is firstly a prompt to help remind your attendees that they have a meeting coming up. But, including detailed information regarding the meeting will take a reminder from good to great.
To truly set your meeting up for success your meeting reminder should include:
- The time of the meeting
- The location of the meeting
- A list of attendees
- A detailed agenda
- Any meeting materials
- Details of what is required from each attendee
Forming this list before sending out the reminder will eliminate any confusion regarding the meeting, as well as ensure that you yourself have planned the details perfectly. This is something that is critical when considering that workers can spend up to 30 minutes searching for a meeting space.
Accept feedback on meeting reminders
Sending out your meeting reminders a couple of days in advance, with the materials attached and ready to look over also gives your attendees the option to provide feedback.
For example, one of your discussion points may have already been discussed or a decision you have included in your agenda may have already been made. Sending this out in advance will allow for feedback on this and you can have the item removed rather than wasting time discussing the points again.
Alternatively, if attendees believe a discussion point will take more time than you have assigned to it then you can adjust the points accordingly. This will assure that nothing is rushed and instead of a meeting running over, you can edit the length, allowing attendees to manage their calendar accordingly.
Give the option to say no in your meeting reminders
When sending out a meeting reminder complete with agenda and timings, it is a good idea to make it known to recipients that they are still free to decline the meeting. We’ve found that this can happen from time to time for a mix of reasons.
Perhaps they initially believed the meeting had some benefit to them, but when reading through the reminder, they believe they won’t have much input or garner many benefits from attending. It is better for everyone involved that they don’t attend in this case. Or perhaps a more urgent commitment has come up at this time.
Not only will this cut down on wasted productivity time for the declining individual, but it will increase productivity within your meeting. Lack of motivation is contagious, and if one attendee appears to be checking out of the meeting, it will cause others to do the same.
Fostering a culture of declining a meeting reminder if you think you have nothing to add will avoid this situation and help with holding better meetings in the future.
Use a tailored approach to meeting reminders
Naturally, different team members will have different preferences when it comes to how they prefer to receive their reminders. Listening to feedback and thoughts on reminders will help you tailor your reminders for maximum efficiency.
If, for example, a team member receives a huge number of emails a day then sending them a reminder a week in advance risks them completely forgetting about it by the time the event rolls around. Working out an ideal schedule with them will work wonders for their productivity and benefit your team overall!
Tying this reminder advice in with our guide to meeting agendas and meeting timings will help you prepare for your meetings in a more thought-out and comprehensive manner. However, successful meetings don’t stop there. Carrying this engaged attitude into the meeting is just as important.