We all have had meetings, and there are good meetings and bad meetings, depending on whether you think the time is worth it or not. So, what makes a meeting effective? Learning how to run effective meetings is one of the most useful skills employees at all levels need to acquire at work. And here are five tips for an effective meeting, to help you and your team move work forward in a meaningful way.
Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information, when you can easily accomplish that by a group email or a group chat. A good meeting should center on a productive discussion that will be more effective in real time than words in emails or comments. For example, projects planning, goals setting, problems solving, decisions making, etc. All these are situations where holding meetings is probably the most effective way to get it done.
The next question is who needs to be in attendance. On the one hand, you should invite those who are the most relevant to your meeting purposes. On the other hand, you can also invite the group to bring diverse perspectives and knowledge, especially if the purpose of the meeting is problem-solving or brainstorming. However, there’s no formula for balancing cost against the potential for creativity, so you’ll need to make your own judgment.
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Tip 2: Set Meeting Agendas
After you have decided to have a meeting and figured out who to invite, then you should work on your meeting agenda. An agenda is a list of topics or activities you want to cover during the meeting. And the main purpose of the agenda is to give participants a clear outline of what will happen in the meeting, and how long the meeting will last. Having this information before and during the meeting should ensure that it proceeds efficiently and productively.
An effective meeting agendafrom PDF Reader Pro can help you make sure you discuss all the necessary matters, keep the talking on topic and help your group use time efficiently. The agenda should be distributed in advance of a meeting, minimally 24 hours in advance so that participants have the opportunity to prepare for the meeting. Preferably, if possible, the agenda should be available several days before the meeting.
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Tip 3: Let Everyone Contribute
You’ve decided to meet, made your invite list and created an agenda. Good job! On the day of the meeting, try to make the most of it by preparing people to really contribute. If you share your thoughts first, you’re likely going to look around a table of nodding heads, with people saying they completely agree with your opinions. So there must be some quiet time and let others speak.
A smart way to reach the goal is to ask yourself, “What is the role of the meeting participants?” The more clarity you can provide about what you want to get out of them, the more likely people are going to contribute and share their ideas. Decisions cannot be made by one person. One of a leader’s main responsibilities is to get as many opinions as possible on the table and decide the best ones.
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Tip 4: End with an Action Plan
As you have gone through your agenda and the meeting has come to an end, don’t forget to end it with a real plan on what to do next. If your meeting centers on a decision, don’t let the participants off the hook and settle for a “maybe.” Push for a decision or a plan so team members can start taking actions as soon as they walk out of the conference room. Even if you may not reach full agreement, that's better than nothing.
Leave the last few minutes of every meeting to discuss the next steps. Assign action items or things to follow up on to specific individuals whenever possible. And be sure to schedule a deadline or a time when someone will check in on progress. Otherwise, all the time you and the team spent on the meeting will be meaningless. And it is also a way to ensure that people leave your meeting with clarity and purposes.
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Tip 5: Record Meetings If Possible
When you finally finish your meetings and consider sharing notes and details with others who couldn’t attend, it is better to record the meeting from the start and send out a link afterward. This method is particularly valuable for team members working remotely or companies with a globally distributed workforce.
Moreover, recording a meeting will enable yourself to recall each and every point that was discussed during the meeting, especially when the meeting covered more than one topic. Instead of taking notes on paper, you can record your online or offline meetings and watch them whenever you need an important piece of information. A great choice is to use Filmage Screen, an all-in-one screen recorder for Mac, because you don’t have to be tech-savvy to record your first meetings.
Running effective meetings is not an easy thing, but it will become your experience when you actually try the tips above. By meeting only when needed, crafting a solid agenda, making people contribute, leaving with clear plans, and recording meetings if possible, hopefully, you can host a more effective meeting that leaves everyone feeling inspired rather than frustrated. So don’t hesitate, try it!