Meetings, meetings, meetings. Sometimes it seems like the world is run on meetings – and it kind of is. But not all managers run effective meetings.
Harvard Business Review says the average executive spends about 23 hours a week in meetings. Needless to say, 23 hours is a lot of valuable time. If you’re not careful, meetings can result in a great loss of productivity and be very expensive propositions. This rings especially true if there are people in the meeting that don’t need to be there or if the meeting is unnecessary in the first place. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us how few face to face meetings are actually needed! Make the meetings you do run, count!
How To Run an Effective Meeting
Effective meetings don’t just happen. They are the result of fore-thought and prep work in advance of pulling people together. It is easy to schedule a meeting, but before you do, it is important to ensure that what needs to be done can’t be accomplished another way (i.e. with an email or phone call). If it is absolutely necessary to pull people together for a meeting, be sure to put in the effort to ensure it is an effective use of time.
Everyone on your team would be happier with more productive and effective meetings. With this in mind, we put together our top tips and strategies on how to run an effective meeting:
Start and End on Time
Time is precious. You want people to join your meetings regularly, so be sure to respect their schedules. Make sure you start on time and end when you say you will.
Allow a few minutes to gather team members, then start promptly. Team members will know that if they are late, they will miss out on information. It is their responsibility to be on time.
Pro Tip: Consider scheduling 30-minute meetings vs. hour-long ones. If you have a solid agenda, 30 minutes is often all that is needed to get the job done. Plus, you have saved each meeting attendee 30 minutes of precious time.
How do you stay on time? Tip #2 will help you stay on track.
Create an Effective Meeting Agenda
We can’t stress enough the importance of a clear and concise agenda. An effective agenda should include:
- Start and end times, location and conference call information as appropriate.
- A list of who will be attending the meeting.
- The goal of the meeting – what is the problem you are trying to solve or next step you are trying to decide on?
- Key items for discussion, including what must be agreed upon for each item.
Ensure materials to be reviewed during a meeting are provided to attendees in advance to ensure a productive discussion. No one loves surprises, and you will want attendees to come to your meeting prepared.
If you do not have an agenda with clear items for discussion and a knowledge of what you need to achieve, perhaps you don’t need a meeting and an email or phone call could do the trick. Your employees will appreciate it if you only schedule meetings when they are truly needed.
Find the Most Productive Time to Meet
It is important to know what time of day those you will be meeting with will be most engaged. Ask your team to provide feedback on this. Some prefer afternoon meetings while others like to have meetings first thing in the morning.
Meetings tend to be more productive in the morning. It is also good to avoid post-lunch meetings and meetings right before people leave for the day. People tend to be more lethargic post lunch, and they can already be mentally checking out for the day after 4PM.
Assign Action Steps!
We can’t stress enough the importance of assigning action steps post-meeting. If the things you decide don’t get done, what was the point in the first place? These meeting notes hold people accountable to what was agreed to in the meeting. Specific next steps must be documented. This includes when next steps will be completed, who will complete them, and how the group will be kept apprised of status.
Be sure someone is assigned to take meeting notes in advance of the meeting. Ensure that they will disseminate them to the group within 24 hours of the meeting. This allows attendees to review the notes and communicate any concerns or questions. If you don’t send notes, it is easy for the time you spent in a meeting to be wasted because people can easily forget what was agreed upon and what must be done.
Conduct Stand-up Meetings
One of the best ways to stay on agenda and keep people engaged during your meeting is to conduct a stand-up meeting. Studies have shown that standing keeps attendees more alert and engaged during the meeting. Also, people will not want to spend as much time just chatting when they can’t slouch down in a comfy chair.
These meetings are great for quick touch bases and impromptu chats. They are not good for longer meetings, but are perfect for quick team collaboration discussions.
Effective Meeting Strategies
Team members need time to think and work. Too many meetings scattered throughout the day impact your employees’ ability to get critical work done. Cluster meetings together when you can to help your team be as productive as possible.
You may also need to establish ground rules with team members regarding the use of technology during meetings to ensure everyone is engaged. Finding a middle ground that all can agree on will be critical here.
Team dynamics are critical. Regularly scheduled meetings can resolve smaller issues before they impact employee and team performance and cause bigger problems.
It is important to find a rhythm that works for your team. You want everyone to be engaged and see meetings as an effective and efficient use of time. Having effective meeting strategies in place will make all of the difference in ensuring your time and those attending your meetings is used wisely.
It is important to regularly evaluate the meetings you are holding to determine if they are needed. And if they’re not, what can be changed to improve them. Spend time with your team to determine what is and isn’t working and get their recommendations for improvement. By getting data from your team, you will be able to streamline meeting time and ensure your team members are more engaged when you are meeting. They will also appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback.
Part of learning how to run an effective meeting is seeking and receiving feedback well. This feedback is critical to ensuring your next meetings are as effective and efficient as possible.
Good Meetings Don’t Just Happen
Effective meetings involve careful planning, excellent execution, and stellar follow-up. This includes adhering to the agenda and the dissemination of meeting notes and following up on next steps. Employing effective meeting strategies will ensure your team is as productive as possible and leaves meeting attendees feeling like their time was used wisely.
Time is a hot commodity, and no one wants theirs wasted. Effective meetings move you and your organization towards your shared goals. We hope these team meeting tips and strategies have given you some practical tools that empower you to run more effective meetings going forward.