By Kyle Allerton

In early 2018, Elon Musk sent an email to his staff where he listed some unconventional productivity recommendations, many of which were methods of how to hold super-productive meetings.

Here are 6 techniques from that email which will help transform your company or team by running your meetings the Musk way:

1. Keep numbers small.

“Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get [out] of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.”

When you plan meetings, think of which people need the information or can contribute to the topic of the meeting. Don’t invite anyone that doesn’t absolutely need to be there.

2. Bring something to the table.

In the email, Musk says that if you aren’t adding to the value of the meeting, you should get out. “Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.” 

If you are leading a meeting, allow attendees to get up and leave if they don’t feel that the meeting has value to them or if they don’t feel that they bring value to the meeting. Keeping unnecessary people in meetings reduces their productivity.

3. Don’t use jargon.

“Don’t use acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software or processes… In general, anything that requires an explanation inhibits communication. We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary.” If you have to stop and explain every industry word to a new employee or a guest, you’re wasting time. 

4. Communicate openly.

Musk says forget the hierarchy. Lower-level employees shouldn’t feel like they can only talk to their peers and direct supervisor. If someone has a good idea, they should feel comfortable expressing it, regardless of their position in the company.

5. Only hold meetings when necessary.

Musk’s email says that frequent meetings are a waste of time “…unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter.” Otherwise, only hold meetings if the information is too complex to convey over email or messenger. 

If you need to schedule frequent meetings for an urgent matter, make sure to end those scheduled meetings once the issue has been resolved. Many forget to stop the pattern and hold 2 or 3 unnecessary meetings before they realize that they’re wasting time.

6. Break the rules.

Just because you’ve been doing something the same way for years, it doesn’t mean that you should continue to do it. “In general, always pick common sense as your guide. If following a “company rule” is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change.” Only keep rules in your meetings and your business as long as they make sense. If an outdated rule or tradition is standing in the way of progress, don’t be afraid to break that rule.

Employing these techniques could radically boost the productivity of your team or company. Engagement will improve, time will be used more effectively, and there will be more opportunities for new and challenging ideas.

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