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Turbo Meetings – how to structure a ruthlessly effective virtual meeting

Ginger Leadership Communications

Let’s face it, we’re all fed up of sitting through online meetings. They’re unnaturally energy-consuming, they’re tough on the eyes and more often than not, they seem to be the opposite of productive.

So, what if we could have twice the impact in half the time?

 It’s possible, if you follow the key principles of a Turbo Meeting.

1. When should a meeting be a Turbo Meeting?

First up, not every meeting should be a Turbo Meeting (that would be exhausting). Aim to hold a Turbo Meeting when:

  • you have strong relationships already built
  • you have the building blocks in place to make decisions (the right people in the room and the right timing in a project)
  • you have the authority to drive the agenda and take decisions
  • there’s generally an aligned sense of direction; i.e. there are no major issues and stumbling blocks
  • there’s something specific that needs to be accomplished

Don’t hold a Turbo Meeting when:

  • it’s a new relationship that needs nurturing
  • there are sensitivities and frustrations within the team or meeting participants that need to be addressed with care
  • there are major differences in skills and experience between key people in the meeting
  • the content of the meeting requires nuance, or in-depth analysis to ensure success

2. What is a Turbo Meeting?

It’s a ruthlessly efficient meeting with key decision-makers to progress a specific aim. No fuss, no pleasantries, just productivity.

Depending on how many people are joining the meeting and what you’re trying to achieve, your Turbo Meeting could last an ambitious 5 minutes, up to a maximum of 30 minutes.

If you’re going to start using the Turbo Meeting format, introduce the concept to your team/audience beforehand. They might get a shock if you suddenly switch to a new format without warning and you won’t get the buy-in you need to make the meeting run efficiently.

3. Set Up Your Turbo Meeting

To make any Turbo Meeting function, you need to get everyone ready ahead of time. Explicitly state the benefit to required attendees (what’s in it for them) and if necessary, differentiate between those who are being invited because you need their input and a decision, or because it’s important for them to observe/listen. 

Here’s an email or calendar invite template you can use:

Hello, this is a Turbo Meeting. 

In the interest of everyone’s time and sanity, we’re going to spend just <15 minutes> to achieve / take a decision on <which new logo we’re picking>.

We’ll follow the principles of Turbo Meetings, meaning that we’re focusing on ruthless efficiency to achieve our aim. Then you can get on with your day 🙂

I’ll be chairing, which means I’m CEO (Chief Efficiency Officer) for this meeting. So that this works, I need you to do the following please:

  • Prepare ahead of time by <looking at the different logo options in the attachment and forming a considered opinion>
  • Send any critical input that might affect our outcome <30-minutes / 2 days> before the meetings
  • Arrive 2 minutes before the start time so that we can begin on time
  • Say nothing unless you’re contributing to the meeting’s stated aims 
  • Where you do have something to contribute, please be clear and succinct – think of yourself as a triple distilled vodka shot
  • If you agree with someone else’s point, don’t repeat it in our precious airspace, but do let us know by writing it on the chat
  • Remember that we do care about your cat, your exciting discovery on Netflix and the weather in your patch of the world… just not on our Turbo Meeting 😉

The structure of the meeting will be:

  • <Reviewing the pros and cons of the three logo proposals>
  • <Agreeing on the favourite>
  • <Agreeing next steps on logo design & sign-off>

4. Starting and running your Turbo Meeting

Your job as the Chair, or Chief Efficiency Officer, is critical in making a Turbo Meeting work.

Your role is to:

1. Prepare ahead of time so it’s clear what steps are needed to get to an outcome

2. Be clear about the aims in advance and state what’s outside the control of the meeting attendees (external dependencies)  

3. Start the meeting on time

4. Ruthlessly drive the agenda towards the stated outcome

  • Say NO to: updates and conversation threads that aren’t critically important – these are action meetings, not reflection meetings
  • Say NO to: new information to be presented – all the information participants need should be sent and reviewed in advance

5. Make sure all participants are succinct and add value

6. Make sure the outcome is achieved

7. Drive your ruthlessly efficient meeting with a smile – knowing that we’re not focusing on small talk and relationship building this time, but that everyone will benefit from the time-saving

8. Finish on time

Of course, it’s one thing reading a blog article about Turbo Meetings and it’s quite another to run them successfully. This takes practice and leadership from the meeting’s Chief Efficiency Officer. That’s why we’ve developed a virtual team training specifically designed to develop your turbo meeting skills.

Watch our 2-min VIDEO to find out more…

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