Meetings have a bad rep and it’s for good reason. The moment a meeting invitation pings in your team’s inboxes you can almost hear a collective groan. “Another meeting.” “More wasted hours”. “Why have I even been invited?”
But, meetings don’t have to be this way. Here are 11 tips to help you run an efficient meeting that will help you achieve successful results:
Create hype about the meeting
Make it an event that makes invitees feel important, that they are part of an exclusive group.
Add substance from the get-go. Send out invitations that let the invitees know what the purpose of the meeting is. Engage invitees before the meeting – send them any information you want to go over during the meeting at least a week before the date so they have a chance to take their time and read through it thoroughly in advance (allowing them to get up to speed and to prepare any questions that might arise). Use this time to speak to some of the invitees about points that are relevant to them and get their thoughts on them before the meeting, this way you can avoid surprise issues, and problems can be deliberated, or even dealt with, before the meeting.
Meeting behavior and rules
Make company meeting rules and make sure everyone is familiar with them – the meeting starts on time, no interruptions, no technology (phones, tablets and laptops) that can distract attendees during the meeting, only invite people who are really necessary or representatives of each unit.
Decide on a timeframe for the meeting and decide how much time will be devoted to each subject or presenter. Send out the meeting agenda on your company template prior to the meeting and follow up with a summary or meeting minutes on a company template as soon as possible after the meeting. It is most important to start and end on time if you want to run an effective meeting.
Prepare for an effective meeting
Before you send out invitations, prepare an agenda (don’t forget to use a company template), give invitees enough time to prepare the work, handouts and presentations they need to have ready for the meeting.
On the day of the meeting arrive early to set the meeting room up. Before starting make sure you have everything you need with you (pens, papers, white board markers, etc.) so you don’t have to leave the room to fetch anything and before starting, make sure all presentations are up and ready to run, you don’t want to waste time during the meeting dealing with any “technical issues”.
Meet outside the office
If you’ve been noticing meeting fatigue try taking your meeting offsite to a bespoke meeting room venue, maybe the change of scenery will make a big difference to the team’s creativity and energize them, ensuring that your meeting will be more efficient.
There are many other reasons that holding your meeting offsite will be beneficial to an effective meeting, including avoiding unwanted distractions and boosting your team’s creativity.
Make technology your friend
Embrace technology and use it to help you make your meeting more successful.
If technology can help make your meeting more effective don’t hesitate to implement. For example, adding a remote member of the team to the meeting via a video call, using interactive projectors to make file sharing easier, or using an interactive whiteboard.
Make a friendly atmosphere
The objective of the meeting is to get people to share their thoughts and ideas and it is imperative for everyone to feel comfortable and safe to speak openly if you are going to hear their best ideas. Maybe take a couple of minutes at the beginning of the meeting to put everyone at ease.
Encourage collaboration and help your team forge relationships. If you spend some time in each meeting fostering your team’s culture you’ll see splendid results.
Respect attendees’ time
Don’t waist time on unnecessary meetings like update meetings that can be covered in an email. Actively manage the meeting to make sure it runs smoothly and keep things on track. Before starting the meeting politely tell the attendees that you will stop them during the meeting if you are running out of time and make sure to do just that to keep each segment running on track.
If you do have to cut someone off before they complete their presentation ask them for a short summary and make sure to follow up with them later and summarize for the minutes. Keep people on topic (but don’t totally disregard any great ideas that are off topic – write them down and come back to them at another time). Don’t revisit old issues or repeat what has already been said, move forward with the agenda.
The best meetings have the best coffee! You want your meeting to be remembered, but not for being the meeting where everyone dehydrated or had really bad coffee. And, if you really want your meeting to be a success – bring pastries.
Use the last 5 to 10 minutes at the end of the meeting to summarize actions and tasks given, including responsibilities and due dates (which should also go in the meeting minutes) so everyone walks away from the meeting knowing what is expected of them.
Keep a record of the meeting
Take notes or get someone to attend the meeting especially to take notes. Make sure that you have a written summary of the meeting, including any follow-up tasks.
Go over the meeting summary and distribute the minutes (in a company template) within 24 hours so people can start working on the tasks they have been assigned while the meeting is still fresh in their minds.
Make your meeting count. Run it efficiently and make sure everyone knows what is expected of them and that they get a summary and a list of tasks on time.
If you run an effective meeting from prep to post, you can have less meetings and get more done in each one of them.