How To Execute An Effective Meeting
Running a meeting is not as simple as getting a group of people together and facilitating a discussion (or following an agenda if you are so lucky as to have one in place!). We hear from many clients that their days are filled with meetings that don’t end with clear action or results, and many more which could have been solved with a simple email. In this article, we want to provide you with some tips on how to execute an effective meeting, but also how to get the right results!
- Ask yourself, do you really need a meeting?
Before booking your meeting room and sending out the invites, take a few minutes to think about what you are trying to achieve from the meeting. What is the specific purpose of the meeting? What will you be trying to accomplish? Most meetings are held to source ideas, make a decision, solve a problem or to make a plan, but at some stages of these processes a meeting may be overkill and a simple email may do the trick.
If after thinking it all though you are still unsure on what to do, Atlassian have an interesting flow chart that can help you determine if you truly need the meeting or not (click here to download).
- Have the right people in the room
Many of you will have heard our team speak about the value of our time when it comes to performing different tasks and activities as a part of your role. However, it is also important to keep this in mind when planning meetings, and those that are invited to attend, as the cost to the business adds up! Ensure that the core attendees that are in the meeting are the key decision makers or influencers for the outcome you are looking to achieve. You may also want to bring in others with key knowledge or different perspectives, but use your common sense on how many may be too many.
- Have a plan or an agenda for the meeting that clearly outlines the meeting objective
At the time you send out the calendar invitation for your meeting, provide an agenda for the meeting to all attendees. It does not need to be a formal document that spells everything out to the minute, in fact it could be a few notes in the calendar invitation that clearly state the most important objective of the meeting. The key focus here is to make sure everyone understands why they have been invited and what will be discussed to allow them to attend fully prepared for the discussion. If you cannot clearly articulate the purpose or agenda for the meeting, an email may be more suitable to solving your issue.
- Have a 5-minute “Soft Start” built in at the beginning for small talk
This is a tip that we have built into our larger team meeting within TalentCode HR, as it allows the team to catch up on items or other discussion points before jumping into the meeting. By getting this out of the way, meeting attendees can focus clearly on the meeting at hand and its conversation, rather than having their own side discussions. It also allows for a hard start at the correct meeting time to keep everyone on track.
- Ban or limit technology in the room
Whilst you many have one attendee acting as a scribe or note taker for your meeting, the remainder of attendees should be without technology (where possible). The harsh reality is that these days, if people are allowed to bring their phones, laptops or iPads into the room, they will not be focused on the meeting or contributing to it. You may find they become side-tracked or distracted by emails, social media or other apps on these items. Building this into the agenda as a pre-meeting notice or rule can help prevent this distraction.
- Follow up post-meeting on any actions or follow up needed
Take a few moments after the meeting to send around an overview email highlighting what was agreed, what actions need to be completed and what next steps are to all who attended the meeting. This should be sent on the same day of the meeting, or within 24 hours of the meeting. This will allow those with tasks or actions to understand what they need to complete and allow for everyone to be on the same page.
The above list of tips and tricks for ensuring your team facilitates effective meetings is just the tip of the iceberg, with many other business brands and thought leaders producing other information and materials on the subject. If you are looking for some further reading to continue to develop your skills (or that of your team), I suggest having a look over the articles from Brian Tracy, The Executive Connection (TEC), or the team from Slack to give you some further ideas and insight.
Whilst it may appear initially that there is a time investment required to prepare and establish your meeting processes, the benefit of executing on these correctly within the business will be invaluable. Ensuring there is a clear purpose or agenda to your meetings, along with actionable discussion that is implemented or acted upon post-meeting, your team and business will benefit in the long term.