"How can I run more effective meetings?"
We've compiled a list of ten effective meeting tips to boost your meeting efficiency and pave the way for an effective meeting culture in your company.
- Reduce the number of internal meetings
- Facilitate meetings effectively
- Define your purpose
- Set a clear agenda
- Prepare for engagement
- Stick to time
- Make meeting ground rules
- Reduce the number of attendees
- Summarize the meeting and follow up
- Evaluate the meeting
1. Reduce the number of internal meetings
First of all, we have to ask, do you really need a meeting? If you can accomplish your goal without adding another meeting to the calendar, do it - trust us, your colleagues will thank you for it. Therefore, our first tip for effective meetings is: If another method of communication will work just as well, especially if the purpose is simply to share information, don't meet.
Ask yourself: "Why should we meet instead of using Slack, Microsoft Teams or some other internal communication platform?"
"What type of meeting am I planning?"
Maybe your team needs to make a decision, and maybe the context of that decision require more elaborate discussion than what Slack or Teams can offer - then having a productive decision meeting would make sense. However, as explained before, if the objective is to share information, don't waste each other's time in a meeting. Therefore, deciding on what type of meeting you're having, is an integral part of preparing for more effective meetings.
2. Facilitate effective meetings
Do you facilitate meetings at your company? Effective meeting facilitation is one of the most important factors of an effective meeting culture - and thus, one of the most critical effective meeting tips.
What does it take to be a good meeting facilitator?
A good meeting facilitator will...
- make proper arrangements for the meeting, such as planning the agenda and booking a suitable meeting room
- engage with the meeting attendees and listen to what they have to offer
- support productive discussions among the participants and assign tasks to participants, so they can to take action after the meeting
A really good facilitator will follow the this meeting facilitation guide, and thereby know...
- How to effectively start a meeting
- How to effectively engage the meeting participants
- How to use effective body language in meetings and abide by the three C's: calmness, confidence, and comfortability
- How to keep meeting participants engaged
- How to keep a meeting on track
- How to close an effective meeting
3. Define the purpose
Take the necessary time to define the purpose - this is the most important part of meeting preparation. The purpose determines who should be there, how they participate and what format the agenda takes. Define the goal and outcomes you want to achieve. It could be to seek input, make a decision, allocate tasks, or something else. Know your purpose!
When you have defined the purpose of your meeting, you can make the agenda
4. Set a clear agenda
A clear agenda outlines the content of the meeting, what will happen and how attendees are asked to participate. It gives a frame for how the meeting will run. Depending on what type of meeting you're having, the agenda should be sent out at least two days in advance so that attendees have time to prepare. That is if you want them to participate actively and productively in your meeting.
Consider adopting a digital meeting tool
Some digital meeting tools like Capturi makes it easy for you to assign attendees to be responsible for creating agenda items before the meeting - that way you can delegate some of the labour of meeting preparation to the participants. In addition, it can boost engagement as attendees will feel more responsible. It's their name who is marked as the responsible on the agenda item!
5. Prepare for engagement
A major misconception about participation is that it's independent of planning, that is just happens on its own. It does not.
Getting attendees to participate requires unique practices and the more effectively those practices are performed, the higher the engagement. There are general practices such as being open, positive, and holding eye-contact with the team members that will make them feel more inclined to speaking up. And then there are more specific methods you can incorporate into your meetings...
Specific methods to increase engagement in meetings
- assign action items
- summarize decisions
- assign administrative roles
- agree on a decision or a next step at the end of each agenda item
6. Stick to time
So much time is being wasted in unproductive meetings, so you need to allocate realistic amounts of time for each agenda item and stick to the agenda. Research suggest that over the past 50 years, executives' time spent in meetings on average has gone from 10 hours to 23 hours a week!
Assign meeting roles to increase efficiency
A way to manage all these hours is to ask someone to take the role of time-keeper. If the meeting veers off track, that person will bring it back to the purpose and the agenda. There are other meeting roles you should consider to optimize your meetings.
To avoid turning a 60 minutes meeting into a 90 minutes meeting, make your agenda list chronological in terms of importance. In some meetings it's better not to resolve all agenda items and instead focus on those directly linked to your meeting purpose. Maybe the rest of the agenda items can be worked out in a shared document, or you can assign them to a few participants to work out after the meeting.
7. Make meeting ground rules
Consider the kind of meeting culture you want to foster in your organization and make agreements with your colleagues about this.
We call this meeting ground rules.
Meeting ground rules are about respect - respect for each others' time and energy put into the meeting. Therefore, simple (but sometimes forgotten) things such as being on time, saving small talk for later, and most importantly - being prepared for the meeting, are paramount to a good meeting culture.
It's not to state the obvious, as in, "don't be late!" - it's about you and your group agreeing on what to do when someone is late for the meeting.
Do you get that person up to speed, or do you simply ignore it? That's the type of meeting ground rules you must figure out collectively.
8. Reduce the number of attendees
Only invite those for whom the meeting is relevant. Likewise, if there are people for whom only part of the meeting relevant, ask if they would prefer to join only for that part. Reducing the time people spend in meetings reduces meeting-fatigue and results in more focused and effective meetings - not to mention the cost of labour spent in meetings.
Who's responsible for making meeting effective?
It's not just the facilitator's responsibility to make sure he/she live up the standards of only inviting the ones who should be in the meeting room. It's also the participants' responsibility to ask themselves "what do I bring to the table?" - and then potentially declining the meeting invitation with an explanation of why you shouldn't be there.
9. Summarize and follow-up
End the meeting with a summary of key points, agreements, next steps, and who is responsible for upcoming tasks. If you have a long agenda, it may be useful to do this after each item. Send a written summary to each participate, ideally within 24 hours of the meeting. This ensures that the momentum continues and people are accountable for what they have agreed to do.
Before the meeting, define what “success” looks like for that meeting. After the meeting, ask yourself if it met its goals. Did we stay on purpose and on time? Did we leave feeling energized and knowing what to do next? How can our meeting be more effective? Use these kinds of questions to evaluate your success, and use the learnings to prepare for even more effective meetings in the future.
Don't be afraid to ask for feedback in terms of agenda planning and meeting preparation, facilitation style, meeting engagement etc. If you're interested in optimizing your meetings, then your participants probably are too!
Smarter meetings? Yes please!
If you liked this article from FirstAgenda, you’re probably on a mission to having more effective meetings – just like us! You might want to try our platform. It’s a simple tool that manages all your meetings and tasks in ONE place. Collaborate, assign tasks, add due dates and keep track of your team’s progress.