We’ve all been in meetings before where we think to ourselves, “this could have just been an email.” Too many meetings are scheduled just for the sake of having a meeting. They don’t have any real direction, leadership, or end goals other than simply to relay information. These types of meetings waste time that could have been spent on other, more important work.
With 25 million meetings happening per day in the US, and an average of 15% organizations’ time dedicated to meetings, we ought to constantly be evaluating and improving the efficiency of these engagements. Having an effective meeting is more of a skill than you’d first think. Here are some helpful tips on how to plan and implement a meeting that make people feel energized, empowered and knowledgeable about their roles.
- Send Out An Agenda Beforehand
A poor meeting and an excellent meeting begins even before you step into the conference room. If you don’t have an agenda and a clear objective for the meeting, your attendees will have no direction as to what you’re covering, and won’t be prepared to actively participate and bring value to the discussion. A helpful agenda should cover the topic of the meeting, goals, required attendees, any needed materials, and a hard start and stop time. Make sure you send out the agenda ahead of time so all attendees can prepare and actively participate throughout the meeting.
- Be A Good Meeting Leader
Leading effective team meetings takes practice. Having an energizing and helpful meeting starts with you. If you’re not excited about the meeting, your coworkers will have a difficult time being excited and engaged themselves. Give your team time to talk and share their own thoughts and ideas instead of dominating the conversation. Mix things up by sharing a video, bringing in a guest speaker, or changing the location of the meeting. And don’t forget about the little things: wear something you feel comfortable and confident in, make sure you have good breath beforehand, and put your phone on silent so you’re not distracted during the meeting.
- Always End With Clear Goals
Too many meetings end with the participants not really sure what they were supposed to get out of it. What’s the point of having a meeting if no one will do anything differently afterward? Make sure you always have a plan of action at the end of the meeting and communicate a timeline of when you’ll be following up on those goals. If you as the meeting leader cannot think of actionable goals or changes that need to take place after the discussion, you may reconsider whether the meeting is really necessary.
- Create An Environment For Active Listening
Your conference room environment has a lot more to do with how your meeting goes than you’d first think. Good meetings take place in comfortable, focused environments that help participants be in a good state of mind. The room temperature, chairs, and background noise can all be distracting people from actually listening during a meeting, so make sure these little things are all in order before you start. If the meeting will be long, a short break in the middle might provide a needed bathroom break and energizer for participants. Also remember that there’s no crime in having a little fun in meetings. A little game or object lesson can loosen things up and make participants more awake and happy to be there.
- Make Your Meeting More Inclusive
Keeping your meeting attendees engaged can be hard if you’re talking the entire time. While there still needs to be a meeting leader, making sure everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and adding to the conversation will keep everyone engaged and interested. Try to keep computers out of the room so you can keep distractions and Slack notifications at a minimum. If you have a meeting with a lot of attendees, try breaking into groups so everyone can have a chance to talk and share ideas, and then have everyone come back together to share their thoughts with the entire group. Everyone has an important perspective and deserves to be heard. Creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels listened to and important will help everyone leave the meeting feeling like it was a good use of their time.
Guest post courtesy of Molly Edwards