Team meetings are events where teams work to make decisions or solve relevant problems. Unfortunately, a lot of meetings we attend seem to be the opposite. The worst meetings can make team members frustrated. The difference is in how the meetings are done. Good managers understand the importance of these team meetings and understand that producing an effective meeting takes planning and deliberate effort. As a top business consulting firm, below are some tips on how to run your team meetings efficiently.
Remember, You Own the Meeting
Do not delegate the agenda planning to an administrative assistant or another team member. As the leader, it is your meeting to plan and run. To put yourself in the appropriate frame of mind, ask and answer the following question: After this meeting, what will I want people to have learned, achieved, or solved?
Always Prepare an Agenda
Everything you’ll ever read about efficient workplace meetings involves advice on preparing an agenda. Still, we have all shown up to a meeting where there’s no agenda to be found. The act of planning the agenda helps to concentrate and recognize the priority topics for the meeting.
Ask for Input on the Agenda
Though it is the manager’s initial responsibility to develop the agenda, team members can be invited to contribute agenda items. Send out a call for ideas some days before the meeting.
Get better each weekly meeting
Seek review from your team on your meeting agenda. What worked well and what did not? Use that info to tweak your agenda to what works great for the team and their requirements. This continuous review loop will make sure that your weekly team meetings get good every and each week. In the work-from-home and remote work environment, you need to avoid conference calls when possible and use web conferencing software, like Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Ensure Clarity Between Fact and Opinion
Though an efficient meeting benefits from participant viewpoints and opinions, it must involve facts and data that help the team make progress. After all, a team project isn’t probably to find success if activities are guided by individual guesses or conjecture. Instead, trend analyses, reports, and other data will be more efficient guides for team discussion and action. One better way to make sure clarity between fact and opinion in a meeting is to involve a presentation of key data, and then provide every person the chance to provide their opinions on this data.
It is not uncommon for a meeting discussion to stray from the agenda. Team leaders can make sure agenda items are not overlooked by adding periodic recaps of what is been discussed and agreed upon. Periodic recaps make sure that every agenda item gets its essential attention and discussion. Recaps help to focus the team and keep the off-topic discussions to a minimum.
An efficient meeting does not dance around problems but brings them to closure through definitive decision-making. A decision can be small like revisiting a topic once the info is gathered. It can be as large as a decision to change few parts of the team plan. Making a decision makes sure the team does not stagnate and keeps the agenda moving forward to action.
One of the reasons that team members aren’t participating in the meetings is that they aren’t familiar with the purpose of the meeting. The purpose of your meeting needs to be relevant and known to all the team members. This will encourage them to participate in the discussions during a meeting and be included in the decision-making. Give all people a chance to lead the meeting and give their points. If the team is encouraged to participate, they’ll be sincerely excited about the meetings and will see it in a positive way contributing to the discussion.
Prepare people to actively listen
You have decided to meet, made your invite list, and created an agenda. On meeting day, you should make the most of it by making your people listen. Active listening is a communication technique often used by counselors, teachers, researchers in which you listen deeply, solely, to the speaker. Active listeners live in the moment, taking in the words of the speaker, gestures, facial expressions, instead of simply waiting for their turn to talk.
Leave your meetings with the next steps
A few meetings leave us drained, while others can leave us inspired and wanting more. If you have planned well, who knows your meeting may end earlier. If the meeting finishes earlier because we tackled all the topics, no one complains. Hopefully, at your meeting end, people will feel good about the topic and will have more insight into your next steps.