Even before the pandemic began meetings were a problem for companies. Getting people together may seem like the best way to communicate information while also gathering ideas from the team. However, there is a fine line between effective meetings and ones that waste the time of everyone involved. Once the pandemic forced meetings to turn virtual, new issues arose. So, how do you make the most of your meetings?
The following tips will help you transform meetings in your organization.
1. Have an agenda
What’s the purpose of the meeting? What are you discussing? And what are you working to accomplish? If you don’t have this carefully planned out before the meeting, you’re wasting time.
And don’t just have the agenda in your head. You actually need to write it out. This will help you stay focused during the meeting and keep things moving and on topic. Your team is busy with tasks of their own and most of them don’t want to waste time sitting in a meeting about nothing.
Make sure you send the agenda to your team before the meeting begins. This helps remove any unnecessary anxiety that your team will have around what’s being discussed. It will also help everyone to show up prepared. They will know what information they need to have ready prior to the meeting. And they will show up in the right frame of mind.
2. Think twice before inviting people
There are very few meetings that require every team member to be involved. Make sure that you’re only inviting the necessary people to the meeting. Yes, there are times when you need to get everyone together, but it’s most likely not necessary for everyone to be at every meeting. Think about who the decision makers and key players are in the topics that you’re discussing. If there are others who may be slightly impacted by the topic, it may be possible for the necessary information to be passed along to them without them needing to sit through the entire meeting.
It’s also OK to have some people only sit through certain parts of the meeting. For example, you may like to start the week off with an entire team meeting to get everyone on the same page. But after the first 10 minutes, there might be people who don’t really need to sit and listen to the rest of the meeting. Let those people return to their normal activities.
While you don’t want to invite people who don’t really need to be at the meeting, you also don’t want to forget to invite someone that really would benefit from being at the table for the topics being discussed. Make sure the necessary people are available for the meeting so you don’t have to chance them missing out on information they need to succeed at their job.
3. Know who is leading the meeting
Have a leader for the meeting. There needs to be someone assigned to keeping the meeting moving. This doesn’t always need to be you just because you are the “leader” of the team. Assign the person who is most involved in the topic that’s being discussed. Make sure whoever you choose will be good at sticking to the agenda and respecting the established time frame.
4. Show up on time
When you schedule a meeting and are taking up time for others on your team, it’s important to stick to the schedule. When you show up late, you’re wasting time and resources. Your team could be spending their time getting something else done instead of sitting and waiting. Remember that your time is not any more important than any other member on your team. If you start to show them that you think your time is more valuable, you’ll quickly lose their respect.
If you’re involved in a meeting, make sure you show up on time. This means you need to become a pro at time management. Don’t schedule meetings back to back. Make sure you have enough time to reach the location you need to be at. And be ready to start when it’s time.
5. Make sure everyone shows up prepared
If you need certain people on your team to have specific information ready for the meeting, make sure you let them know well in advance. You want everyone to have the opportunity to show up prepared for the meeting. This will help keep things moving while making sure you accomplish what you need to do in the meeting.
Along with sending the agenda, make sure you communicate what you need from people in the meeting. If you want them to show up with ideas about how to solve a problem, let them know beforehand so they can do their brainstorming whatever way works the best for them. If they need to have numbers to report, make sure they know what the expectations are.
6. Keep it short
Be respectful of the time of your team members. Meetings aren’t the appropriate time to catch up on everyone’s life story. Focus on covering the topics that need to be addressed. Don’t drag the meeting on longer than what it actually needs to get the tasks done. When a decision is arrived at or the next steps are established, move on.
7. Eliminate distractions
Virtual meetings have added a new layer of distractions for people, but there are plenty that still take place at in-person meetings. When you’re in a meeting, turn off the notifications on your computer or ignore them if you’re able to. Turn your phone off or put it on silent. Checking email and texts during a meeting is rude and is wasting the time of the other people in the meeting. Remember, just because you’re the boss/manager/team leader does not mean that your time is more important than the others in the meeting.
Outside of technology, there are plenty of other distractions that can arise. Do your best to schedule in-person meetings for locations that will help remove distractions.
8. Make it an option to be virtual
Even if your team is back in the office, there are times when it makes sense to allow someone to join the meeting virtually. For example, if you have a team member with a busy schedule, it may be easier for them to participate in the meeting from their office or the coffee shop near their next appointment location. Be flexible to make it as easy as possible for your team to participate in the meeting while still accomplishing their other tasks for the day.
9. Take notes and share them
Taking accurate notes is important during meetings to help document and record what has been discussed. While everyone might be taking their own notes, make sure there is someone assigned to taking meeting minutes. It’s best if this is not the same person who is also leading the meeting.
Once the meeting is over, share the meeting notes with everyone that was involved in the meeting. This helps everyone know exactly what the expectations are going forward and keeps everyone the same page. It makes it clear who is supposed to be taking what specific actions as a result of the meeting.
10. Be open to feedback
The best way to make meetings the most effective for all involved is to get their specific input. These tips can help, but each organization has their own meeting challenges and team culture that need to be thought of when running meetings. You want the meetings to be effective and efficient. Ask your team for ideas on how to make this happen. Not only does this allow everyone to feel like part of the team but it communicates what you’re trying to accomplish through the meetings. People like to know that their time and energy is being valued instead of wasted.
If you’re struggling with developing leadership skills or have a leader in your organization who is struggling, it may be time to bring in a business coach that focuses on leadership development. The SPEARity team of business coaches works with leaders, and potential leaders, to help them overcome obstacles like these. Contact us today to learn more about the SPEAR process.