12 Tips for Effective Team Meetings
Meetings are a necessary part of any business. You can accomplish much by gathering the team together – whether via a meeting room, a conference call, or a ZOOM session – and going over the details with input from everyone. But unless the staff meeting is carefully planned, it can quickly fly off the rails and become a big waste of time. With the “new normal” being the hybrid model workplace, it’s more important than ever to abide by a certain structure that leaves you equipped to handle any unforeseen difficulties. Here are twelve tips that will help you design and conduct effective team meetings that will leave your staff feeling informed and empowered.
- Create a team meeting agenda. One of the keys to having an effective team meeting is the agenda. Your agenda should be an outline of the points you want to discuss in the meeting. If you don’t have agenda points in mind, send out a call for ideas a few days in advance. Limit the agenda to a few key points or hot topics so you can realistically deal with them all during the meeting. Be sure to include the outcome you want or your objective for each discussion topic. It’s also a good idea to show how pertinent each agenda item impacts the company’s bottom line. You might want to start the agenda with a recap of the previous meeting and the action items from that meeting. Send out your completed agenda 24 to 48 hours in advance of the meeting so team members have time to prepare. There’s nothing worse than being taken by surprise!
- Assign roles before the meeting. The team leader can’t and shouldn’t do everything. You’ll want to assign someone to take meeting notes. You may even want to rotate the notetaker at every meeting. Consider giving something the role of timekeeper, to help ensure you’ll make it through the entire agenda. You might have different team members be responsible for leading an agenda topic that is their specialty. And you need someone to be in charge of the technology – to ascertain if the room has the right equipment and how to run it or troubleshoot it.
- Keep attendees to a minimum. Having too many meeting participants present can be counterproductive. Too many opinions – especially if they aren’t well-informed opinions can be disruptive. You do have to include the people who are experts in or have a stake in the agenda topics.
- Start on time and end on time. Don’t wait for stragglers. That rewards them for tardiness and punishes those who show up on time. Plus, it can unravel the timeframe of your meeting. Make sure everyone knows you won’t wait, though, especially if that’s been the prior modus operandi. This is why it’s good to have the recap as the first item on the agenda.
- Begin with humor! Start with a funny anecdote or a personal story to break the ice and get everyone in a good frame of mind.
- Encourage participation but set guidelines. There’s always a hothead in the group. Even typically mild-mannered team members can act out if they feel threatened. Make it clear that you expect team members to show respect for one another in their communication. Explain how to raise issues and what you consider unacceptable behavior. Making your team meetings a “safe” place for risk-taking – no ridiculing, embarrassing, or punishing allowed – will help to improve participation and get everyone involved.
- Include time for Q and A. Often there’s a call for any questions with two minutes left in the meeting and people are starting to gather their things and head on to the rest of their day. Be sure to include plenty of time for questions. You might consider gathering questions in advance of the agenda so they can be covered while you’re on the topic.
- Break it up. If it’s a long meeting, add something different to the mix. Maybe hold the meeting offsite or in a different spot. Serve something different from the usual bagels. Have a “surprise” celebration or other activity. It doesn’t have to be something major, just something to shake it up a bit.
- Assign next steps and follow-up deadlines. After decisions have been made on an agenda topic, create action items associated with the topic and assign each one to a specific member of the team. Be sure to put a deadline on when the action item is to be completed. Then hold that team member accountable. This information should be stated in the minutes.
- Determine the date of the next meeting. Do this while everyone is present and can put it on their calendar. No more excuses about not getting the memo!
- After the meeting review the notes and send them out to everyone. The notes should focus on facts, issues discussed, decisions made, action plans (including people assigned to an action item and the deadline for completion), and Q and As. You should also include the members who attended. Notes should be sent out no later than 24 hours after the meeting was held. Don’t just send them out to attendees. Be sure to send them to anyone who has a stake in a topic.
- Ask for feedback. This will tell you more than anything if you’ve conducted an effective team meeting. Doing this immediately after the meeting convenes, while everything is fresh in people’s minds is optimal. Keep it simple. For example, you might ask attendees to respond to a simple rating of the meeting: 1 – excellent, 2 – adequate, 3 – needs improvement and why. You could have these printed out and available on the table to make it easier for attendees to respond.
Having a successful meeting can be difficult sometimes but we at Clarus have a variety of resources to make it that much easier!