We’ve all felt the frustration of attending a meeting that could have easily been an email, was not necessary for us to attend, or was a waste of time as there was no clear purpose or agenda so nothing got accomplished. With virtual meetings being more common if meetings aren’t planned and run efficiently team members often multi-task or zone out. Remain respectful of your team members time and run efficient, impactful meetings by following these simple tips:
Establish a Clear Purpose & a Pre-Communicated Agenda
Before you even schedule a meeting, you should establish what the purpose of the meeting is. Determining what you want to address or what decisions need to be made is the 1s step to determining if you need a meeting or if this could be achieved in an email or stand up as well as the appropriate length of time for the meeting and who you will need in attendance. Clearly communicate the purpose in the meeting invite to assure that everyone is aware of why they are meeting and what they should be accomplishing building buy-in and participation from the start.
Provide a concise, well-planned agenda in advance laying out everything you plan to discuss and accomplish as well as any items that will require preparation on their end. This could be providing project updates, completing a survey, or doing background research. Assuring that participants come prepared protects your teams time by making the meeting time as impactful as possible. The agenda also services as a guide for the meeting. Making it easy to redirect when the conversation gets off track by being able to refer to the agenda. We prefer to include time estimates for each agenda item so everyone can be aware of allotted time keeping the discussion on point.
Include the “Right” Group of Participants
When planning a meeting, it’s essential to assure that you have the right group of people gathered for the purpose of the meeting. Confirm those who will need to provide valuable insight or decision-makers are in the room and protect others' time by providing the information in an email. We recommend checking attendance prior to the meeting to assure all required participants can attend. If you host a meeting without team members that need to provide input or be present for decision making, you will not be able to accomplish your goals for the meeting thus wasting your team members' time.
Keep Participants Engaged
Encourage or require participation from all participants – if team members know that they are expected to participate they are less likely to zone out. This could be through the form of an exercise, sticky notes or going around the table giving everyone a chance to speak. If you’re meeting is virtual then we recommend requesting everyone keep their camera on.
Many participants may feel uncomfortable speaking up so it’s essential to build trust in the room and create a safe space for all to contribute. This will not only prevent attendees from zoning out but will also ensure that you get the most out of the meeting by gaining access to as much insight as possible. One of our favorite tactics to use is sending out a survey in advance to gather everyone’s thoughts ahead of time and using the results to start a discussion.
We recommend asking for volunteers to own the responsibility of documenting the meeting to assure no ideas, decisions, updates, or action items get lost. We find it helpful to take notes collaboratively via a shared document to assure that everyone is getting the same takeaways and are leaving on the same page. As an organization that utilizes Microsoft Teams, we love using the Teams Meeting Notes feature to collaborate on agenda items, take notes and assure action items are noted and assigned.
End with an Action Plan
The most important part of any impactful meeting is assuring that items get followed through with long after the meeting. We like to end each meeting with a recap and action plan. Assuring everyone understands the decisions made and verifying ownership, responsibility, and timeline for any action items.
Every participant should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of what was accomplished and what their individual action items are that they are responsible for. Sending a follow up email with the notes as well as everyone’s action items and due dates is a great way to assure that everyone leaves on the same page and provides accountability for action items.
Bonus Tip: Use the Right Tools
If in-person, it's essential to verify that the conference room chosen has the tools needed to run an efficient and impactful meeting. Depending on your unique needs this could be a whiteboard, screen to present, sticky notes & more! If virtual, we recommend utilizing a collaborative virtual whiteboard system like Mural to recreate the environment that you would have in person.
Whether in person or virtual, pulling up a project management tool throughout the meeting can be a great tool to view statuses and reports, timelines, as well as add or update any items as a team directly in the meeting.
If you are interested in learning more techniques for running productive, impactful meetings, join us for a webinar on Wednesday, October 13th from 12-12:30pm. Sign up on either Eventbrite or LinkedIn to attend - we’ll be reviewing techniques and sharing our secrets to improve engagement and productivity.