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How to Make Engineering Meetings Productive and Engaging

Struggling with unproductive engineering meetings? Discover strategies to boost engagement and reduce disruptions.



For many engineers, meetings can feel like a descent into hell. Unlike the tangible and immediate results of coding, meetings often seem less impactful and more disruptive. They're seen as necessary evils by engineering managers, but there are ways to make them more engaging and less of a chore for your engineering team.

Here are some tips:

1. Define the End Goal of Every Meeting

Question to Ponder: "How will we know when this meeting is over?"

Encourage your team to ask this crucial question for every meeting. It helps determine whether the meeting is an endless, aimless discussion or a focused, productive session. Remember, avoid the dreaded "we have the hour" mindset at all costs.

2. Focus on Outcomes, Not Agendas

An agenda is not an outcome. It's crucial to distinguish between what a meeting will cover (agenda) and what it aims to achieve (outcome). If you can't define how the meeting will change participants' behavior or decisions, then the meeting's purpose isn't clear enough.

3. Embrace Decision Meetings

Engineers work differently from managers. For them, meetings are often interruptions. Instead of pulling them into the management world, try decision meetings. These are short, focused sessions where engineers bring a decision they've made after a period of investigation. It's a great tool to combat indecision and to keep discussions brief and to the point.

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4. Timing and Attendance Matter

Be strategic about when and who you invite to meetings. Engineers need long, uninterrupted periods for coding. Schedule meetings at less disruptive times, like early in the day. Also, if someone can multitask during a meeting without missing out, they probably don't need to be there.

5. Run a Nano-Retro

At the end of each meeting, ask attendees to rate its value on a scale of 1-10. If ratings are low, ask why. Was the meeting necessary? Could it have been conducted differently? Will it change anything for the attendees? This feedback loop is crucial for improving future meetings.

6. Don't Default to Meetings

Finally, don't make meetings your go-to communication method, especially for remote teams. Consider asynchronous alternatives like recorded messages, Slack polls, or documentation. Remember, every meeting should be more valuable than the coding time it replaces.


By applying these tips, you can make meetings a productive and engaging part of your engineering team's routine, rather than a dreaded diversion. Remember, it's about making every minute count and respecting the unique workflow of your engineers.

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