How to Run Effective Meetings

Six Steps to Running Effective Meetings

Meetings have a bad reputation as a waste of time. Learning how to run effective meetings will increase productivity and team collaboration. Rather than serving solely to share information, meetings should be a way to move your team forward to meet actionable goals. Follow these steps to run more effective and enjoyable meetings.

Step One: Set the Purpose

The purpose of the meeting is not necessarily what it is about, but what it aims to accomplish.  Examples of meeting purposes include:

  • Standups/Huddles/Check-ins
  • Planning and Business Development
  • Share, brainstorm, mastermind, and develop ideas
  • Solve problems and challenges
  • Make decisions and set goals and objectives
  • Resolve conflict
  • Employee or student development, coaching, and training

If there are no clearly defined goals for the meeting, there is no purpose and it should not exist. FYI meetings are often a waste of time and better suited as a memo.

Step Two: Considerate Invites

Meetings are expensive. When too many people are involved, they may be less productive. 

Ensuring that you have the right people in the meeting for the actionable tasks shows that you respect and value their time. You should invite only the people who are necessary for the success of the meeting. 

Ask yourself what will happen if someone does not attend the meeting. If the answer is nothing; they probably don’t need to attend. Strive to invite only those who are required to solve a problem or who have a stake in the outcome. 

The best decisions are made when multiple viewpoints are considered. Aim to invite a diverse group of people.  It may be best to invite one person from each team – such as one marketer, one manager, and one salesperson, rather than entire teams. 

Step Three: Set the Agenda

Meetings with a vague purpose lead to confusion and wasted time. The agenda sets the direction of the meeting to ensure it stays on track. Include the agenda in the meeting invitation so participants can mentally prepare. Notate the time allotted for each item.  Each agenda item should be specific and actionable so that everyone who shows up knows exactly what to expect. 

Set the role of each individual. Appoint a facilitator to keep the meeting focused and on time. Breaking the meeting into sections with a different person leading each part is a good way to keep people’s attention and make attendees feel ownership over a topic. 

Step Four: The Right Amount of Time

Meetings must start on time and end on time. Time is money and meetings are expensive. Show participants that you respect their time by starting and ending on time. 

General guidelines for time allotments for different types of meetings are:

Regular team meeting: 15-30 minutes

Mastermind group meeting: 60-90 minutes

Decision-making meeting: A few hours to a full day depending on the decision

Brainstorming meeting: 40 minutes to 1 hour

Retrospective meeting: 30 minutes for every week in the project

One-on-one meeting: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Strategy meeting: 60 to 90 minutes

Set a specific amount of time for each agenda item and hold the facilitator responsible for making sure each topic does not go over the amount of time it is allotted. End the meeting when your goals have been achieved. 

Step Five: End Meetings with Action Steps

Without action, meetings don’t accomplish much more than wasting time. Action items are the next step towards achieving the goals outline in the meeting. The best way to ensure that participants leave the meeting with clarity and purpose is to end it with action items.

Each action item should be assigned to a specific individual responsible for ensuring that it gets done. The goals must be clearly understood by all participants, but most importantly by the person responsible for completing them. The last few minutes of every meeting should be spent discussing the next steps required to achieve the goals. 

Step Six: Follow Up and Sharing

It is common for people to leave a meeting with different interpretations of what went on. To avoid this, make sure a summary of all the meeting notes is sent to participants as soon as possible to create a sense of urgency for the goals. Be sure to include action items, responsible parties, and deadlines. This keeps everyone on the same page. 

Assign someone to keep track of which items have been completed by the designated deadline. This will allow you to record your action item completion rate to determine the effectiveness of your meetings and adjust your goals accordingly. 

Running effective meetings can seem like a challenge, especially when virtual meetings are the norm. By setting a clear purpose, sending considerate invites, crafting an actionable agenda, setting the right amount of time, ending with action steps, and following up, you can host highly effective meetings that increase productivity and team satisfaction.

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Reclaim hours lost checking emails, responding to chats in real-time, and searching for lost communication with focused meetings that include timed agendas, note-taking, and tasks in the same place you share messages and manage your groups and projects.

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