According to Harvard Business Review, 71% of executives believe that meetings are unproductive and inefficient. As more employees are switching to remote work, the number of meetings has increased, and employees often dread these long and painful sessions that cut into their productive hours.
Regardless of how much people hate them, meetings are here to stay. They are essential to modern commerce and allow employees to discuss their ideas and concerns. So, it is crucial to run effective meetings that do not hinder productivity and contribute to the organization's success.
Have you ever attended a meeting you could have avoided because you had no role in it? Well, almost every employee has been in such discussions where all you do is listen, and there is no active participation. So, the key to making a meeting effective is to carefully consider the group of people expected to join, as not all the team members need to be a part of the meeting.
Moreover, providing a forum for discussion where each team member gets the opportunity to present their views is essential. Successful meetings offer opportunities to collaborate and help build trust and improve productivity.
People take a long time to recover from a bad meeting, affecting their productivity. So, the goal of the meeting should be to motivate the employees and provide clarity regarding the tasks at hand. So, an effective meeting has actionable meeting conclusions.
Wondering how you can host a meeting that checks all these points? You need a proper framework and time management skills so that the meeting helps people rather than impeding their work. Here are a few pointers that will come in handy as you host effective teams meetings:
Your organization should have a dedicated meeting space that reflects the company’s culture and makes it easy for team members to collaborate and socialize. The interiors should be bright, with comfortable and ergonomic furniture that makes it easy to participate in longer sessions.
This space should have all the necessary equipment, such as audio-visual tools and cable management, that provide a seamless experience to everyone participating in the meeting.
People tend to indulge in chit-chat during meeting hours. According to research, an average meeting lasts around 30 to 60 minutes. However, the actual time spent actively listening and discussing is way less. So, the key is to keep it short because when people know they are booked for an hour, it is likely to eat into other people’s time.
As a moderator, you should have a time limit for the meeting based on the agenda and the number of participants. It is best to limit the duration to half an hour, as people focus more on the tasks at hand because of the short time. However, if anything is left, you can always schedule another meeting.
The moderator should share the agenda at least 24 hours before the start of the meeting. It should contain the key points to be discussed. Having a plan helps people prepare for the meeting by gathering the required data and collating their queries and viewpoints to get a clear picture of the tasks.
“I don’t agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time. If the desired outcome is defined clearly with a stated objective and agenda listing topics or questions to cover, no meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes. Request them [meetings] in advance so you can best prepare and make good use of the time together.”
Author of The 4-Hour Workweek
If you make efforts to plan an agenda, the participants will come prepared, and this, in turn, will save your crucial time. Sharing the plan sends the message that the meeting has a proper structure and productivity is the goal. Moreover, it helps people stay on track. Even if the conversation goes in some other direction, the moderator can remind people about the crucial points in the plan that need to be discussed.
Whether it is a weekly growth team meeting or a one-on-one check-in, Airgram has agenda templates that come in handy as you focus on creating the main topics of discussion in your meeting.
The meeting outcome is based on the goals you have for the meeting. So, it is essential to plan ahead in time and list the desired goals on the agenda. At the end of the session, you can share the actionable items for each person, along with the time taken to accomplish them.
Remember that it is crucial to organize the tasks, and it is where Gantt charts are helpful. You can use these charts to plan deadline-based tasks and allocate resources.
Once team members know the tasks and are equipped with the necessary resources, they can direct their efforts to achieve these goals.
Also, it is best to assign the actionable items within the meeting, if possible. Sometimes people are uncomfortable with the tasks assigned to them, or someone else may be better suited to perform a task. In such instances assigning the tasks within the meeting saves time as people can voice their questions and concerns there and then.
It is also essential to be meticulous when assigning tasks, as you should know the strengths and capabilities of each individual.
Meeting minutes create records that can be referenced in the future, so you should note all the critical points. They help create action items and provide the ‘takeaways’ from the meeting. Also, if someone cannot attend the meeting, they can go through the minutes to stay updated on the developments.
The meeting notes include the agenda of the meeting, the attendees, action items and their status, tasks that team members are expected to perform, and the points of discussion for the next meeting.
Templates help you keep the notes short and simple and ensure you do not miss out on necessary approvals for the tasks. You can use a template based on the type of meeting, for instance, the Board meeting minutes template on Airgram, such as start time, meeting topics, and agenda.
Once you have noted the essential information, you can review the reports and check the minutes of the last meeting. Here the pending approvals can be approved or amended.
Next, you can go ahead with the current meeting and list the critical points. Once you submit and approve the minutes in the template, it can be closed.
Effective meetings are where people communicate and collaborate, leading to knowledge sharing and decision-making. Participation especially becomes a challenge in remote sessions, where it is difficult to pay attention when you are not in the same room with your teammates.
Icebreakers are a great way to encourage employees to participate in the meeting at the very start. Collaboration tools such as Trello, Slack, and Google Hangouts are great for the team to collaborate and socialize. In fact, you can have virtual get-togethers with your team to increase engagement.
Remember, good managers are always transparent when it comes to improving engagement. It implies that they discuss engagement strategies with their teams and hold meetings encouraging everyone to participate actively in decision-making.
One-on-one check-ins are also a great way to boost engagement, making the meetings highly successful. Besides, it provides an opportunity to share feedback with the concerned employee and
According to a survey conducted by Forbes Insights, 48% of senior executives agreed that an inclusive workforce is essential in providing different perspectives that help with innovation strategy. An inclusive meeting is where all the participants feel comfortable and are encouraged to share their ideas.
When planning the agenda, it is essential to know what other team members want to discuss. Including these items in the agenda makes everyone feel heard. Also, sending the schedule in advance gives them the time to prepare and even make changes to the items on the agenda.
Another way to have an inclusive environment is to assign roles to team members such as facilitator, note taker, and timekeeper. Rotate these roles from time to time so that everyone gets an opportunity to polish their skills. It helps people take ownership of the meeting and makes them more involved.
Effective meetings are run by efficient facilitators who know when to talk and when to let other people do the talking. As a meeting host, you should encourage others to voice their questions and concerns and share ideas. Ensure that meeting everyone follows meeting etiquette to maximize productivity.
Sometimes there is a ‘celebrity’ in the meeting– a person who has a great personality and is very confident. Chances are that such a person would dominate the conversations. But, you as a moderator should ensure that everyone gets to speak up.
Also, make sure that the meeting doesn’t go off track, and if it does, you need to reiterate the action items to make the best use of the available time. Your job also involves listing the tasks to be done by each member and summarizing the next steps.
Once the meeting is over, the moderator should review the key points and summarize them when they are still fresh in the memory. The notes should include all the action items that need to be completed by the teammates. Once you have finalized the notes, sharing them with the team via email is good.
Sharing the notes is helpful as sometimes people may not remember what was discussed. Also, if any team member couldn’t make it to the meeting, they can get a gist of what happened during the session.
The key to making good notes is to keep them to the point and well-organized.
Once the meeting is over, you should take the time to debrief and consider what went well and what the shortcomings were. You can determine the effectiveness of the discussion by evaluating whether all the goals have been met.
Get feedback from your teammates to get insight into the efficiency of the meeting. Many teams do not end the session until the feedback loop is closed. So, you can allocate the last ten minutes for sharing feedback regarding the meeting. It is also the time to consolidate these learnings and ensure that the feedback is implemented.
In a world where meetings are dreaded because of being unproductive and inefficient, having effective meetings is crucial. However, it needs some preparation.
Remember, running an effective meeting is not just about inviting people to share and discuss ideas. But, a successful meeting needs thoughtful planning and time management.
Having an agenda and the willingness to engage all the team members in the planning and execution of the meeting helps make it effective. Moreover, successful meetings start and end on time and have high participation and constructive collaboration.
Tobi is a writer and communications consultant with five years of experience in creating content for corporate and non-profit organizations. She enjoys writing on best practices for business processes, technology, ESG, and climate change.