As I’ve always said, your Executive’s number one resource is their time, and your role is to safeguard that time, making sure they use their time correctly so that they are successful in the position. Having complete control over their schedule does allow you to manage the allocation of their time. They have a lot of meetings, that goes without saying, part of your role is to ensure they go to the right meetings, but more importantly your purpose is also to ensure they go to the meeting at the right time for the right amount of time. This is easier said than done because often meetings are set without giving these principles much thought, but if you want to manage your Executive’s time you do have to look at the meetings that take place and if they are useful and productive. In this post, I am going to share some tips on how exactly you go about streamlining meetings for your Executive.
We also have a fantastic free resource for you that will help you plan out your Executive’s meetings and make sure that you don’t miss anything. Our Meeting Planning Checklist has every task you need to plan an effective meeting.
Streamlining meetings for your Executive
Before you start optimising meetings for your Executive you need to make sure you know what every meeting is about. Every decision you make regarding your Executive’s calendar should be decisive, and it should be made with your Executive’s precious time in mind. You are there to save them time, and you are there to ensure your manager’s day is productive. When responding to diary appointments, everyone should provide you with an agenda or purpose for the meeting.
Don’t ever accept meetings with people that have said your Executive ‘will know what it is about’.
They might – but you don’t!
You will need to know about every meeting in case your boss asks – so ask! Here are the questions to ask before you accept any meeting request for your Executive:
- Who is chairing the meeting? If the organiser wants your Executive to chair the meeting, you should sit down with the organiser to put some structure in place for the meeting.
- What is the agenda?
- What is the purpose and objectives of the meeting?
- Who is attending?
- Are there any supporting documents?
- Are there any challenges or obstacles that your Executive needs to be aware of before the meeting?
Segment your Executive’s schedule
Segmenting your Executive’s calendar is so helpful for you and your Executive. It gives you both a good overview of what type of meetings your Executive is attending and where they are spending most of their time. If you haven’t done this yet, it is well worth taking the time to sit together and get the list of meetings right. You can easily make a start and show them the list to finalise together. Here are a few suggestions for the types of meetings your Executive might have:
- Internal meetings
- External meeting
- Recurring meetings (1:1 meetings, team meetings, board meetings etc.)
- Project meetings
- Personal time/appointments
- Blocked time for catch up/emails/paperwork etc.
- Travel time
Ideally, each of these segments will have their colour code that you can use as a visual representation on your Executive’s calendar. Again, make sure you work with your Executive on this. You can make a start, but you need them to sign off the types of meetings and the colour coding so that you are both on the same page.
Create a routine
Along with segmenting your Executive’s meetings, you should also create a routine so that they are attending meetings that are similar in terms of topic and scope. This will ensure that they are not hopping around from subject to subject and topic to topic. It will also help keep their mind focused. So for example, can you group their 1:1 meetings together, or their project meetings or can you have one afternoon a week when your Executive catches up with clients or stakeholders? The ability to focus is tough when you are pulled in lots of different directions, so creating a routine for your Executive’s meeting schedule will help.
Streamlining the process
Assistants spend a lot of time scheduling and planning out their Executive’s calendars. We all know this! Scheduling eats into our day, but it doesn’t have to. There are a lot of tools that can help streamline the whole scheduling process and save you time on the whole back and forth of setting dates. I highly recommend you use something to minimise this process (even if you only use for say external meetings). My favourite tool is Calendly because it is simple, integrates well with Gmail and Outlook and lets you set up rules that will help streamline the whole scheduling process.
This is where I think Calendly will help you. As you saw on the video, you can select chunks of time for meetings and then let the people who want the meetings pick their preferred times via a URL link. This is perfect for those colleagues who wish to or should I say demand time with your Executive. You can block a certain amount of time each week on your Exec’s calendar for these types of meetings. Let the individual organise the time and limit the back and forth conversations about your Exec’s availability and actually, if the meeting is convenient. Once you have the meeting in the diary you can then still demand an agenda and of course, cancel the meeting if it is not necessary but where Calendly helps is getting that meeting in there without you have to do all the hard work.
Along with tools that help streamline the process, you should also block off time in your calendar to dedicate to scheduling. As much as you time block for your Executive you should do the same for your tasks. Scheduling is a big task, so make sure you allocate some time to forward plan the schedule and make sure everything is in place for the week ahead, and you have all the details you need for each meeting.
Along with scheduling and accepting meetings that come in for your Executive Assistants are also asked to create and plan meetings on behalf of their Executive. Again, this process should be streamlined, and I have the perfect checklist for you to download (it is also FREE). The list includes every task you should complete to ensure the meeting runs smoothly, during the build-up to the meeting, the week of the meeting, the day of the meeting and afterwards.