Meetings at work are so important in order to keep on track with your team and collaborate on ideas. Therefore, it is key that you are managing meetings effectively so that everyone gains from them. Effective meetings leave you energised and feeling like you’ve accomplished something.
So, what is it that makes a meeting effective? There are three main goals with every meeting:
- You achieve the objective of the meeting
- You take up the minimum amount of time
- The meeting leaves participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed
So in order to achieve this, here are our top 10 tips for managing meetings effectively.
1) Set the meeting’s objective
The key to managing meetings properly is to know why you are holding it in the first place. What do you hope to achieve? You must have an agenda at the ready, and know what will be discussed. Good managers do this by planning beforehand, and coming up with a strategy and some talking points for the team.
Knowing exactly what information needs to be covered will help you stay on track and avoid any unrelated tangents. Many organisations struggle with having meetings for meetings’ sake, so in order to rectify this and maximise productivity, every meeting should have a separate agenda and clear goals.
2) Develop a good agenda
In order to achieve the goal set out in each meeting, a thorough agenda is crucial. Generally, an agenda should include a list of actions needed to be updated on or discussed. The agenda should always be shared with participants beforehand, so they can start thinking about ideas and preparing any information that is needed.
Verto’s Kanban-style boards are a great place to house agenda items, as the cards can hold as much information and as many documents on a subject as is needed. Boards can also be shared with meeting members so they can collaborate on setting the agenda before the meeting date alongside the meeting organiser.
3) Manage time effectively
An obvious, but important point. One of the biggest issues with managing meetings is when they run over time or waste time going over the same ground. A way you can rectify this is to assign one member of the meeting to keep track of time, so you can control how long the meeting goes on for. You should also note that people’s attention span will probably start to decline after half an hour or so. The longer the meeting, the more effort it will take to keep up the energy and discussion.
Having short meetings is an essential part in improving your team’s efficiency, and a key part to managing meetings effectively. It is also worth considering that sometimes it is better to have a meeting last a little longer than usual to ensure the points are covered, than it is to cut a meeting short without the goal of the meeting being achieved. The closer knit your team is, the better their ability to communicate will be, and the less time will be needed for each meeting.
4) Evaluation and delegation
At the end of each meeting, it is wise to set aside some time to evaluate the processes you went through in the meeting, and determine areas for improvement. Ask your participants what their thoughts were on how the meeting was run, and what they would do differently. This can be a great way to encourage collaborative thinking throughout the team, and to ensure that each member feels satisfied with how the meeting went.
It is also very important to ensure that every team member knows what is expected of them upon the end of the meeting. When the meeting adjourns, every participant should have a clear idea of what they need to do next, and how to complete the tasks that have been assigned to them. In order to aid this, we recommend calling for anyone who has any further questions to come to you directly, as this may encourage those who are not comfortable voicing concerns to the entire team.
5) Allow for creativity
A successful meeting should not only result in achieving its goal, but it should also encourage ideas to flow. A creative environment is great for this, as it encourages everyone to participate and voice their thoughts on the subject. The worst thing a participant can be is only passively attending, and not really contributing or getting anything out of the meeting. Even if a particular team member is not directly involved with the topic at hand, getting an outside creative perspective can help to see issues in a different light and decide upon creative solutions.
One great way to achieve this style of meeting is to get the team integrated, and comfortable voicing their opinions, with each other. Everyone should be encouraged to comment or get involved with brainstorming. These types of sessions are ideal for getting your team bouncing ideas off of each other. When everyone contributes their ideas, you will be far more likely to come away from the meeting with a sense of the goal being completed.
6) Selecting the right people
Everyone will have experienced a meeting where they have wondered why they are there. Sometimes, meetings are held when the participants have nothing to input. In order to avoid this, carefully select who you need to be at the meeting. Evaluate in advance who needs to be present for the meeting, and what information needs to be covered. Consider whether anyone’s time will be wasted by attending, and ask your team in advance who has the time, or who would like to be involved in the meeting. This helps – as we’ve just discussed – to provide a more balanced view of the meeting’s subject.
This also helps to avoid team members feeling left out. How many of us have watched meetings take place that we felt we should have been included in? While this may have been down to the host wanting to make the meeting as efficient as possible (like we’ve just spoken about), it can also give team members a feeling that they are not as important. This is another reason to offer your team a place at the meeting by telling them exactly what will be discussed in advance, and will avoid anyone feeling like their opinions do not matter.
7) Be passionate
One of the worst things you can do as a manager is to appear uninterested and bored with the subject you are discussing. If you show a lack of interest, then why should your team show anything different? If you can kick off every meeting with a clear demonstration of passion or positivity for the project, it will encourage everyone else to do the same.
Showing a good attitude as a leader will also help break through any walls of nervousness that participants may have. Everyone will feel more at ease and more likely to contribute their thoughts to the topic at hand. This then helps stir a sense of collaboration for the meeting and bring about all the benefits that entails.
8) Take notes
Every meeting should involve notes being taken. Whether there is someone specifically attending the meeting whose job this is or not, when a lot of information is covered, notes are essential. Ideally, every member of the group will be taking notes on the topics that matter most to them and their workload, especially when tasks are being delegated.
When an additional participant is there solely to take notes, this stops anything from slipping through the cracks. And sending round a breakdown of the meeting afterwards helps to ensure everyone who was present takes away the information that is beneficial to them, and hold them accountable for their actions.
9) Ensure the team is satisfied
The most important thing with every meeting, to ensure that everyone walks away satisfied that the purpose of the meeting has been fulfilled. To ensure maximum satisfaction for everyone taking part in the meeting, there are several things you should keep in mind.
First of all, make a point to ask anyone who has anything to add to do so, or to come to you after the meeting has ended. Also, at the end of each agenda item, quickly summarise what was said and ask everyone to confirm it as a fair summary. This should also be noted down for sending around the team later. Additionally, make note of items that require further discussion at a later date, such as work that needs to be completed by a set deadline.
At the end of the meeting, ensure that everyone around the table understands the next steps that are being taken by all, and mention to them that this information will be sent around just for record keeping purposes. This will ensure that everyone has left the meeting knowing everything they need to know, and that everyone who wishes to talk in private can do so.
10) Closing meetings
Always end meetings on a positive note to keep everyone motivated and assured that you are managing things well. Go around the table and ask for any additional comments, and ensure everyone knows their next steps. It is also handy to set a date for the next meeting, and ask participants if they can commit to it. You can also check with participants to see if they need any more clarification, to make sure everyone understands.