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. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us how few meetings are actually needed! Let’s discuss how to make the meetings you do run, count!
How To Run an Effective Meeting
Effective meetings don’t just happen. They are the result of forethought and preparation – before you start to pull people together. It is easy to schedule a meeting, but before you do, 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 schedule a meeting, prepare ahead of time to make it a meaningful one.
Everyone on your team will 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:
- The key takeaway or action item you want alignment on coming out of the meeting.
- The reasons why your takeaway is the right one – for that stakeholder group, on that project, at that exact point in time.
- Actionable next steps to implement your key takeaway.
This type of agenda ensures that instead of talking through context, methodology, and all of the work that you’ve done, the meeting will be spent discussing a solution to the problem that you face. This helps your team get to a decision point faster and agree on next steps, instead of having to schedule a follow-up meeting (which are the worst!)
Note: There is a time and place for brainstorming meetings, which we are not discussing here.
Ensure that any supporting materials are sent to attendees in advance to ensure a productive discussion.
If you do not have an agenda with clear items for discussion and a knowledge of what you need to achieve, you’re not ready to schedule a meeting yet.
Our favorite framwork to create an effective meeting agenda is The Pyramid Principle. It’s what we use to run our own internal meetings here at Management Consulted, and the framework we teach to Fortune 2000 partners in our corporate trainings.
Find the Most Productive Time to Meet
It is important to know the 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.
A next step is only complete when the Who, What, and When components have been clearly defined.
Be sure someone is assigned to take meeting notes in advance of the meeting, and make sure that they disseminate them to the group the same day. If you don’t share follow-up notes, the time you spent in a meeting will be wasted because people will 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, either change them or scrap them! Spend time with your team to determine what is and isn’t working and get their feedback 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, 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 that you are not wasting precious time!
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.
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