There are three ways in which participants can contribute to a meeting: 1) input, 2) decision, 3) commitment. If a person cannot make any of these three contributions, don’t invite the person because this person just needs to be informed by broadcasting the meeting notes. 1
I think this is something I'd like to move towards running remote teams. Currently the default for a lot of meetings is to invite the whole team/groups of people, but this is mostly just for knowledge sharing which can be achieved by good note-taking instead (which is more beneficial anyway as it creates a concrete record of decisions/direction).
The "commitment" part is the most unclear to me, but I like Mike Crittenden's explanation that it "means you cannot move forward without that specific person committing (even if they disagree)". 2
Optional by default
For remote teams you cannot rely on everyone being available for a meeting, so optional attendance becomes a default. To make this work you need to also encourage async participation. Record the meeting, take notes, and broadcast after the completion of the meeting. If the goal of the meeting is to make a decision on something, seek thoughts and opinions prior to the meeting for those who can't be there.
Ensure meetings have a purpose and agenda
At GitLab, roughly 1% of meetings should end within the first minute as it becomes clear that the meeting doesn't have a known meeting outcome 3
There should be a clear purpose for a meeting. Similarly, there should be an agenda attached to the calendar invite. "No agenda, no attenda." 3 If you want to get formal, Gitlab have a nice list of requirements for meeting agendas.
Stop calling meetings so you can simply organize your own thoughts with witnesses 4
I've been guilty of this, and I work with people who are guilty of this. I think this is relevant to the quote further up of the reasons to be part of a meeting - noticeably information sharing is not one of them. I think for a successful remote working organisation (even non-remote!) this is key, and that knowledge sharing should be done as asynchronously as possible. Meetings are ephemeral and there will be loss of knowledge.
It's not rude to focus on documentation in a meeting. A surefire way to waste time in a meeting is to avoid writing anything down. Meetings within an all-remote company require documentation to be worthwhile. 3
If for a meeting to be held the attendees need to have read supporting documents (design docs, RFCs, etc.), have that reading time at the start of the meeting. This ensures everyone is on the same page.
- Start on time, end on time (or earlier!). Make sure to spare time at the end for outlining the outcome, action points, etc.
- Don't book meetings for a full hour/30 mins - leave some buffer time at the end for people to rest/take notes/etc. in case they have a meeting in the next hour. Google Calendar has a built-in setting for this.
You can be whatever you want, so be the person who ends meetings early. 5