How to Conduct an Effective Team Meeting
Meetings! Chances are that your schedule is full of them on any given day. From staff meetings to client onboarding and project check-ins, we all have them. They can be annoying and disruptive to your daily schedule. Author Thomas Kayser states, “a meeting is indispensable when you don’t want to get anything done.” Millions of meetings take place worldwide every day. Research says that 39% of meeting participants have admitted to dozing off during a meeting, and over 70% conduct other work during meetings. Meetings can be significant; some are necessary to advance a project or organization. However, too many or those that are counter-productive can lead to wasted time and money.
Understanding how to run an effective meeting is one of the most crucial skills employees at any level need to learn to thrive. So let’s take a deeper look at how to conduct a meeting effectively and alleviate the feeling of wasted time.
What is an Effective Meeting?
To run an effective meeting, we must first identify what that is. We often use the words “effective” and “efficient” interchangeably. We think that they mean the same thing, and they do not. An efficient meeting starts on time, has few attendees, sticks to the scheduled meeting order, and accomplishes its objectives.
Sounds perfect, right?
An effective meeting combines efficiency and thoughtfulness. It is carefully and thoughtfully selecting the correct group of individuals for the meeting and delivering actual results that will add value to the organization.
Effective meetings add real value to a company. They produce ideas, give direction, strengthen bonds, and renewed vigor. All interactions during an effective meeting can be directed toward a common purpose and end with a clear action plan.
Steps to Conduct an Effective Meeting
Some meetings are necessary, while others are a waste of time. Status updates and presentations often disguise themselves as essential but can be handled through email, chat, etc. The most critical step to effective meetings is determining if the meeting is needed. Once you have decided that it is necessary to have a meeting, there are a few steps to follow to ensure you conduct an effective meeting.
1. A clear purpose for the meeting
For any meeting to be effective, there needs to be a clear, concise purpose, goal, and objective. Ask yourself, “what are we looking to achieve with this meeting?” For recurring meetings, this is especially important. Knowing your intended goal will help you determine how frequent those should occur.
Once you determine your purpose, write your meeting agenda. It should outline specific items that will be discussed in order. Send this agenda out to all invited to attend the meeting. Having an agenda ensures that those participants arrive with valuable ideas and stay on track as the discussion progresses. Writing these things down and creating a plan helps to clarify the meeting’s focus and overall purpose.
2. Determine meeting attendees
You have your purpose and objectives defined, and you have created your agenda – now it’s time to determine who needs to attend. Be careful and thoughtful when choosing attendees. Choose those that can make a unique and relevant contribution to the meeting. Keep the number of attendees to the barest minimum.
For example, inviting the entire marketing team would seem a little silly if you are trying to solve a tech issue. You only need to invite the tech guys.
Include attendees that come with diverse perspectives, especially if it’s a strategy meeting or a brainstorming session. Including a diverse team creates room for creativity.
3. Keep attendees engaged
John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, has this to say about engagement, “You’ve got 10 minutes with an audience before you will absolutely bore them. And you’ve got 30 seconds before they start asking the question, ‘Am I going to pay attention to you or not?’ The instant you open your mouth, you are on the verge of having your audience check out?”
Sharing the most exciting points of the meeting in the first 30 seconds will arouse the attendees’ interest. Then, say or do something every ten minutes to re-ignite that interest. Try to avoid technicalities in the discussion. They tend to deplete most individuals’ willpower and attention.
Another way to engage attendees is to prepare them for active listening. Active listening involves focusing all your attention on the speaker, their words, gestures, tone of voice, etc., and not just waiting for your turn to speak. Some ways to encourage active listening are:
- Making the meeting environment comfortable
- Scheduling the meeting at optimal times of high energy
- Optimal lighting of the meeting room or venue
- Getting rid of technological distractions like laptops and phones (with many meetings becoming hybrid-this may be impossible)
4. Utilize a note-taker
Taking notes during a meeting isn’t just a good habit but a necessary one. It is a written record of discussions, decisions, and next steps. In addition, meeting notes, or minutes, are helpful for those unable to attend but still need information from said meeting. You can use a note-taking app or find valuable templates for taking notes or minutes during a meeting.
Take a look at CEO’s blog on How to Take Minutes During a Meeting to answer any questions on note-taking.
5. Start early and end on time.
Beginning and ending on time shows that you respect the time of others. You are not obligated to wait on all attendees to arrive before beginning. Be respectful of those that are present.
6. Be result-oriented.
It is effortless to drift off-topic or bring up unrelated topics. However, often those tangents go for far too long or dive far too deep. It is up to the facilitator of the meeting to decide when tangents have gone too far.
If there are decisions to be made, it may be necessary to press the team to make a decision so action steps can be set and taken following the meeting. But, again, focus on end goals, objectives, and results.
7. Decide and assign the next steps.
Simple enough. You need to:
- Summarize the meeting and the decisions made
- Make a list of action steps to be taken
- Assign these action steps with a deadline to specific individuals or teams when possible.
8. Follow up
After assigning action steps, follow up with individuals and teams to track progress on these steps.
Running an effective meeting can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Meetings no longer must feel like a waste of time. Instead, only hold them when necessary. Using these tips, you can run an effective meeting that will have your team feeling inspired rather than frustrated.
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