Team meetings are an integral part of any business. At its best, a team meeting promotes collaboration and lets the members make decisions or solve problems. Unfortunately, a lot of meetings we attend do not fulfill these criteria. We have all attended a poorly run meeting and felt like it was a waste of time, right?
Research has revealed that several meetings fail due to poor strategies and execution. But several experts opine that conducting an effective team meeting isn’t rocket science. The way we plan and run the meetings makes the difference. Proper planning and deliberate effort are instrumental in making a meeting effective.
If you want to run a great meeting and make it more productive, this blog is for you.
The Purpose of Team Meetings
A meeting without a purpose is bound to be a failure. Fundamentally, the purpose of a team meeting is to share information efficiently and to create the scope for discussion around what is being shared. A well-organized meeting will provide its members an open forum for dialogue and discussion, solve concerns or obstacles, and have clarity on future actions. The purpose of a specific team meeting depends on the topics in the agenda and the business needs of the organization.
Types of Team Meetings
Not all team meetings are made for the same purpose. Some of the most common types of team meetings and their purposes are given below:
- Status update meetings: These meetings (such as project updates and catch-ups) are performed on a regular schedule, and they help the teams to stay aligned, discuss any roadblocks or challenges, etc.
- Information sharing meetings: Meetings of this kind might include training sessions, presentations from investors or sub-teams, keynote speeches, company updates, meetings for new employees, All Hands, product demos, etc.
- Decision-making meetings: These meetings are expected to bring people together to focus on a common goal, evaluate solutions, decide on a course of action, or plan the implementation of a chosen decision.
- Problem-solving meetings: Meetings that aim at coming up with solutions for problems that relate to business challenges, internal politics, external pressures, or particular projects or team goals.
- Innovation meetings: To bring new ideas to the table and foster innovation in your organization, innovation meetings are required. Workshops and ideation brainstorms are classic examples of innovation meetings.
- Team building meetings: Meetings of this type are vital to building a vibrant company culture as they promote collaboration, discussion, and conversation – the cornerstones of a robust and vivacious team.
Meeting Prerequisites and Training for Leaders
An HBR article that draws from survey research on senior managers across a range of industries discloses that 71% of the participants viewed meetings to be unproductive and inefficient. It’s found that one of the key reasons behind the unproductive meetings is more than three-fourths of the leaders do not receive training on conducting efficacious meetings.
According to Hugo, every meeting needs to have PANTS (Purpose, Agenda, Notes, Tasks, Shared). It is advised that in the announcement for your staff meeting, you should communicate the following information about the meeting:
- Meeting Purpose
Note: A meeting room link or dial-in number has to be provided for remote meetings.
A lot of people believe that the person who leads the meeting should be the one dominating the discussion. Leaders have to overcome such myths. It is the meeting leader’s responsibility to pay attention to the flow of the conversation, keep people on-topic and on schedule, ask follow-up questions where necessary, and define the next steps at the end of the meeting.
What makes an effective meeting?
A well-run meeting can produce positive, actionable, and tangible outcomes. If running a successful meeting is an art, you can be a great artist if you incorporate the following points into your toolkit.
- Follow the IEEI Framework: HR experts suggest opening the meeting using the IEEI framework: Inform, Excite, Empower, Involve.
- Inform: Letting the participants know the purpose of the meeting and the product to be produced.
- Excite: Explaining the benefits of the meeting and why this meeting should be important to them.
- Empower: Describing the role they will play or the authority that has been given to them.
- Involve: Getting them involved immediately through an engagement question that furthers the meeting purpose.
- Start the meeting with an icebreaker: HR professionals suggest beginning meetings with icebreakers. Long-term benefits of icebreakers include building empathy, increasing interactions, and building a sense of community on the team. These are besides the short-term benefit of easing everyone into the conversation.
- Have a Positive Attitude About Meetings: Every leader should look at meetings as platforms to exhibit their leadership qualities and characteristics. Leaders must see to it that they don’t delegate the agenda planning to a managerial assistant or another team member.
- Prepare an Agenda: The act of planning the agenda helps to focus and identify the priority topics for the meeting. It should focus on topics that impact the entire team, individual discussions can be had in your one on ones. A standard agenda should include:
- The meeting Title
- Location, Date, and Time of the Meeting
- Context / Background
- Purpose of the Meeting
- Agenda items: Information sharing/ Creative discussion/ Decision-making
- Outcomes of the Meeting
- Ask Your Teammates for Input on the Agenda: Even though it’s the leader’s prime responsibility to develop the agenda, team members can be invited to contribute agenda items. In case of some important meetings, you may circulate a call for ideas a few days before the meeting.
- Bring all voices into the conversation: If you organize a meeting to generate ideas or make a decision, you need to realize that you’ll get better results if you can get all the members to contribute. Also, make it a point to curb one or two individuals dominating the conversation. A group of experts suggests the following tips:
- Go around the room and ask the quieter members of the team for their opinion.
- Be on the lookout for interruptions. If someone gets cut off, provide cover by saying “Hang on, <Name> wasn’t finished.”
- Foster a welcoming environment by repeating that everyone’s input matters and there are no ‘stupid’ ideas or questions.
- Before a brainstorming session, ask people to write down their ideas and stick them on the wall before talking through each of them.
- Respect people’s time: Disseminating the meeting agenda is the first step towards showing respect for your teammate’s time. It will help you stay focused on the meeting’s purpose and avoid deviations. The next step is highlighting the significance of punctuality. If you run meetings that start on time and end on time, participants know what to expect and they try to be on time. In case a member turns up late for your team meetings, you can give them some feedback during your one-on-one.
- Assign clear action items and takeaways: Action items are indispensable to ensure that your meetings involve new discussions, ideas, and decisions. One of the best ways to record action items from your team meetings is to write them at the bottom of your meeting agenda and assign them as the meeting evolves. This will allow you to go back and underline what the team agreed on at the end of each meeting. You may use a meeting agenda app for this purpose.
- Share the meeting notes: Sharing the minutes of the meeting with all the attendees has proved to be beneficial. If your teams are working remotely, you can record the important online meetings so that the attendees can revisit them.
- Ask team members for feedback: You may ask your people if the meeting’s purpose and agenda were clear, enquire about their favorite part of the meeting, if they prefer the meetings to be shorter, and encourage them to suggest tips to make the meeting more effective.
- Be wary of Fatigue: You should have a clear idea of how long the meeting should last. You need to start setting meetings with a shorter time window and see if the meetings become more productive. If your meetings are longer by requirement, you should allocate breaks. You may refer to the ideal meeting lengths provided by the Vital Meetings handbook.
- Make it remote-friendly: Whether you have a fully or partially remote team, you need to make sure your meetings are remotely accessible. You also have to ensure that everyone has access to the meeting software or the team meeting link. Make sure you consider time zones when selecting a time for a remote meeting.
Note: While using technology, you should expect equipment to fail and plan so that you can deliver a productive, effective meeting whatever the circumstances. This might mean bringing printouts, having backup materials, or alternative ideation exercises.
Meetings are an unavoidable part of corporate life. Conducting a team meeting effectively is an important managerial skill set but is often neglected. This blog has covered what leaders ought to do before the meeting, during the meeting, and afterward. We are sure the tips and strategies explained here will enable you to lead team meetings effectively.