Tips for Running Effective Meetings
Updated: Jul 21, 2020
One of the most important skills to have as a valuable member of an organisation is the ability to run effective meetings. According to research, businesses waste $37 billion every year on ineffective meetings. In addition, meetings tend to reflect on how well a team can function and are integral to the achievement of team goals. But what makes a meeting effective? In this article, we compiled a list of the most important tips for running successful meetings as well as some bonus tips on how to run effective meetings online.
Preparation and research
Have a clear meeting objective
The most important step in making sure a meeting is purposeful is making sure it's necessary. If the objectives of the meeting can be fulfilled in a faster and more cost-effective way, then calling a meeting would be unnecessary. If you are unsure, consulting the other attendees might help you confirm the necessity of your meeting.
Get the right people in the room
The time required to attend a meeting costs money, which means that unnecessary inviting people to the meeting would not only cost the organisation more money but would also lower it's effectiveness. Taking more time to research the unique contribution that each attendee will be bringing to the table will save you both money and time, as well as make your meeting more efficient.
Include your agenda in the meeting invitation
Setting an agenda before the meeting is crucial to its effectiveness. Not only does an agenda help all attendees prepare for the meeting, but it also creates realistic expectations about what the meeting will be about and how long it's meant to run for. Many companies find agendas to be so important that they allow their employees not to attend meetings if an agenda is not provided beforehand. In order for the agenda to communicate clearly your objectives, make sure to let everyone know if they need to take any action before the meeting.
Be smart about when you set the meeting and realistic about its duration
Not all meetings need to fit in a half-hour block. Be realistic about how long the meeting needs to be and plan accordingly. If you think that the matters can be discussed in 7 minutes then schedule the meeting for that time only. This will also ensure that no time will be wasted with unnecessary blether.
Bonus tip: Have a way for everyone to join remotely
Covid-19 has introduced a level of uncertainty in our lives. Provided your meeting is not online, having a way for some of the attendees to join remotely will give your team a sense of security and increase the possibility of a 100% attendance.
Running the meeting
Start and end on time
It is very important to set an example by always starting and ending on time. By always starting on time, you prove that you value all the attendees' time while making sure that there's enough time to go through everything on your agenda. If someone is late you can start the meeting and fill them in after the meeting has ended, just be understanding and kind. By always ending on time, you will ensure that everyone can attend their next responsibilities on time and prove the importance of staying on track during the meeting. Any unfinished items can be discussed electronically later or postponed until the next meeting.
Ban technology (if possible)
If possible, it's recommended to ban technology (other than the laptop/ phone for the remote attendees). Doing so will reduce the number of potential distractions while increasing the focus of the attendees. Notes can be taken on a whiteboard or a piece of paper before photographed or typed and shared with everyone. If technology is necessary, remind everyone to put their devices on silent.
The circulation of materials can serve a few different purposes during a meeting. Other than just sharing information, you can use this moment to earn the attention of the attendees by providing them with the material in parallel with intriguing or positive news. They can also serve as a note-taking space for everyone to write down personal notes or follow-up actions.
Elicit participation from everyone
If you conducted good enough research about the necessity of each person in attendance, then everyone present should have something to contribute. You can make sure that everyone has the time to do so by either individually asking one member at a time or by asking for the opinion of the quietest members during group discussions. If a lack of participation is a regular occurrence, you should try to set it as one of the expectations at the beginning of the meeting.
Stay on track
To ensure that everything in your agenda gets the required time to be discussed, try to be strict with how much time each item is given. If something which was not originally in the agenda comes up, write it down and reassure everyone that it will be discussed at a later time. In case this new item has a higher priority than the original items, find which ones have the lowest priority and replace them with the new one.
Create an action plan
Either after each item or at the end of the meeting, write down a list of all actions discussed during the meeting and who is responsible for them. This will ensure that any workload that arises from this meeting is both known to everyone and agreed by the people responsible.
Thank everyone for their contribution
Showing your appreciation for everyone's time and contribution can go a long way towards building long-lasting professional relationships and even friendships. This will also help you build a team spirit and make everyone feel useful.
After the meeting - follow up
Share notes, results and action plans
After the meeting, it's important to share any notes, results, and action plans. This will not only ensure that everyone knows what they need to follow up with, but also increase the accountability and communication in the team as everyone will have the same information about the items discussed.
Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback will always be the best way to find out how you can improve the way you run meetings and tailor it to the needs of your team. After all, communication is key to every kind of operation.
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