Though they are intended to boost productivity and efficiency, team meetings often end up wasting companies’ time and money because they are run poorly. We have all sat through those late afternoon meetings that never seemed to end. These dysfunctional meetings cause frustration among employees and end up doing more harm than good. With the right tailoring, you can learn to lead effective meetings that are beneficial to you and your team. Here are nine tactics for ensuring you get the most out of your team meetings.
- Make a Plan
Before scheduling a meeting, you must first decide if the meeting is really necessary. Ask yourself, “Can I accomplish the same goals without holding a formal meeting?” Unnecessary meetings take up valuable time and can end up costing you money, so make sure it is important. Next, come up with a plan for your meeting and set clear objectives. Know the purpose of the meeting, what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to accomplish it.
- Choose the Right Audience
It’s great to include your entire team and share information with everyone, but consider the impact on productivity if the entire team is present. There are times when it just isn’t necessary to have every team member present. Decide who really needs to be there and plan on sharing the minutes of the meeting with the rest of the team via email. You can usually get more done and faster with fewer people involved.
- Have an Agenda
Meetings that don’t have a clear agenda are likely to get off track easily. Agendas keep everyone focused on the objectives and prevent the meeting from going awry because of some random topic. One of the best ways to conduct an efficient meeting is to carefully plan a detailed agenda and distribute it in advance to all attendees. This gives everyone an opportunity to see what will be discussed so they can prepare for the meeting ahead of time.
- Start and End on Time
Late arrivals can cost you 5-10 minutes of valuable meeting time or end up making the meeting last 10 minutes longer. Make it clear that the meeting will start promptly and don’t wait on late arrivals. One of the most effective meeting strategies is setting firm start and end times. Starting on time will keep your meeting on pace and allow you to end on time. Likewise, when it’s time for the meeting to end, don’t allow it to drag on. If there are issues that require more time, plan for those separately.
- Choose the Right Time
One often overlooked but highly effective tactic for leading a productive meeting is simply choosing the right time to schedule it. Some meetings are best to be held in the morning, so people can take action and discuss the objectives throughout the day. Also, people tend to be fresh and productive first thing in the morning. On the other hand, scheduling a meeting right before lunch might not be the best time. People are hungry and ready for a break. Late afternoon meetings can also be less productive, because people become tired and lethargic at the end of a long work day.
- Minimize Distractions
Checking emails, cell phones, and doing other tasks during a meeting are sure fire ways to kill productivity. The best way to avoid this is to request that attendees avoid using cell phones and laptops during the meeting.
- Encourage Participation
There should always be a meeting facilitator to keep you meeting moving in the right direction, but this person should control the entire meeting. Create an atmosphere where attendees are encouraged to ask questions, make comments, and engage in discussion. This keeps everyone engaged and allows people to freely express thoughts and ideas.
- Meet Outside the Office
An off-site meeting can be a great way to avoid frustration and lack of energy. A change of scenery can be helpful for bringing energy and ideas to the table. Consider taking your team outside, to a nearby cafe, or a restaurant.
- Follow Up on the Meeting
Follow-up is an important strategy for ensuring you get the most out of your meetings. Check in with attendees in a timely fashion to see how the tasks are progressing and answer any questions that may have come up since the meeting.