An effective team meeting could be the linchpin for your team’s success. It could enable you to solve problems or brainstorm innovative ideas. Unfortunately, many people think meetings are tedious and ineffective. They aren’t wrong either. Studies indicate that leaders have become a little too trigger-happy in calling meetings. In fact, executives on average spend 23 hours a week in meetings. Today’s workplace is radically different from the 1960s, when executive spent 10 hours in meetings weekly.
After a certain point, these meetings can hardly be necessary or productive, so what’s the key to planning quality meetings that boost your team’s productivity and strengthen their collaboration?
It all begins with a quality plan.
Facilitating Quality Communication
Communication with the team is critical in your organization’s success, and in this new era of hybrid work, a constant flow of communication is more important than ever. Fortunately, there are many great tools your organization can use to keep everyone on your team on the same page, including two Arootah favorites, Slack and Zoom.
Meetings utilize a high volume of valuable resources, so you want to be sure that you get a high return on them. First, you need to decide whether a meeting is necessary; many aren’t, and some discussions can be handled by a well-written email or some other method of communication.
Your team will respect you if you only call meetings when absolutely necessary for your organization’s success. It shows that you value their time and it makes your meetings more productive.
If you’ve determined that a meeting is in fact necessary, here are the key points you’ll want to adhere to in order to get the highest return possible on your time.
10 Key Elements of Quality Meetings
Before scheduling a meeting, clearly define your expectations for the outcomes of the meeting, including any decisions that need to be made. Include these items in the agenda. You should clearly communicate this objective to your team before you hold the meeting. This helps them come prepared to meet this objective or to participate in decision making.
Identify a facilitator. The facilitator’s role is to run the meeting, control debates, serve as timekeeper, and most importantly, ensure the team meets the expected outcomes. They also send out follow-ups, assigned with deadlines.
The facilitator should assign an administrative meeting assistant to handle all administrative tasks, including taking notes and keeping time. This frees up the facilitator to handle how the meeting goes and keep everyone on track.
Identify and invite attendees that are relevant to the meeting. In other words, only invite those with organizational roles that are pertinent to the decision making or meeting objective. It’s common knowledge that employees who are required to sit through irrelevant meetings are frustrated by the waste of time. Don’t put anyone through that frustration, and be respectful of their time.
There are three types of attendees: required, optional, and cameo experts. Each attendee should understand their role and purpose in the meeting.
Send invitations well in advance. Sending invitations isn’t difficult in the digital age. You can also automate reminders by the day or hour before using apps such as Google Calendar or Calendly.
Require an RSVP from all attendees as well. You’ll want to know if an attendee who is vital to the outcome of the meeting is unable to attend.
Prepare and distribute agendas prior to the meeting. Make agenda items as specific as possible. Include follow-up reviews from previous meetings as well, in addition to a list of all the decisions your team will need to make.
Try to stick to this agenda as closely as possible. Remember that some team members may not need to stay for the whole meeting or may benefit from joining later on. Show them that you respect their time by sticking to the agenda.
Identify and prepare documents (including plans, decision matrices, etc.) that your team will need in the meeting. Delegate this preparation when possible, and make sure there are enough document copies for everyone. People notice and appreciate when you have covered all bases for required documents and printouts.
Review follow-ups from the previous meeting during the current meeting. It’s important to acknowledge and adjust your plan based on feedback from previous meetings.
Attendees will let you know if they thought the meeting was too long or too rushed. Make them feel as though you are listening to them and that they have autonomy in their participation by taking their feedback seriously.
8. Debate Protocol
Be sure to eliminate personal attacks and ego from the conversation. A group meeting is not the time to give feedback on any one team member’s performance. If you sense that the conversation is moving in the direction of personal attacks, ask employees to schedule a time with the meeting assistant during which they can discuss the issue with the people directly involved in the conflict.
Be prepared to debate. Use something like a decision matrix to remain objective on which decisions will have the highest impact on your organizational goals.
A group meeting is not the time to wax poetic about anything. Get to the point and avoid rabbit holes.
Based on one study, the best meetings take place between 15 and 30 minutes. With attention spans averaging only 14 minutes, this should be an appropriate amount of time to be productive without sacrificing focus.
After the meeting, have the meeting assistant distribute notes with follow-ups. Follow-ups should be brief but honest. Get attendees’ feedback on one to three elements of the meeting, such as the length, focus, or productivity.
It can be helpful to ask for open-ended feedback about what would have improved the meeting too. Listen to this feedback and implement it in the next meeting.
The Bottom Line
Productive meetings start with a quality plan, so follow a process you know will boost your team’s productivity and strengthen collaboration.
By following this process, you can ensure your meetings help your team solve problems and become more effective. Unfortunately, many leaders simply call meetings out of habit. However, coming prepared with a plan can drastically improve meeting outcomes while showing respect for your team’s time.
We have tons of resources to help you and your team become more effective. Take a look at our eBook, The 10 Step Arootah Success Formula, for more advice.
Knowing this, what are you going to change about your next meeting? Let us know in the comments!