Meetings are necessary—there’s no doubt about that. However, not every meeting is necessary, and not every meeting, though necessary, is effective.
Meetings can sometimes be run with no clear goals or objectives. Unproductive meetings can be draining because they eat up precious work time and employees’ energy and resources.
The bottom line is that if you’re not running efficient meetings with your participants, it wastes employee productivity hours and energy.
Let’s talk about 11 practical tips to run effective meetings with desired outcomes. Just like your next meeting, we’ll make sure this blog post is worth your time!
Why it’s important to have effective meetings
Having successful meetings is an essential part of any working organization. They provide an opportunity for team members to come together and collaborate on tasks, discuss progress, and make decisions.
Productive meetings keep your team on track and help them accomplish their goals faster. For effective meeting strategies, follow these 11 tips.
1. Evaluate if a Meeting is Needed
Before scheduling a meeting, take the time to evaluate if it’s necessary. Some of these questions can guide you in the right direction:
- What is the goal of the next meeting?
- Will there be a set meeting agenda?
- Who will be the meeting attendees?
- Do we need to have an open discussion among the team?
- Can the plan be accomplished without a meeting?
- Can this be an email?
If you can’t answer these questions with clarity, or if the answer to the last two questions is “yes,” it might be best to skip the meeting altogether.
Too often a work meeting is conducted without taking the time to evaluate if it’s necessary, preventing it from being effective.
If you decide that a meeting is in fact necessary, ensure that everyone who needs to attend is included on the invite list. And, if possible, try to keep the meeting duration short.
2. Make Sure the Right People Attend
This is a simple thing to check, but it will be hard to succeed if the wrong people attend your meetings. Make sure all the key players are in attendance and no more than that.
If some team members don’t need to be there, that’s okay! There will certainly be situations where some people attend meetings in shadowing or learning situations—and that’s okay, too. Just don’t make it a habit of inviting people to meetings when they don’t need to be there.
3. Create an Agenda with Specific Goal or Action Items
When leading effective meetings, make sure to have an agenda with clear ground rules and action items. When creating your own agenda, allow time for discussion. The goal is to take action—not just chat.
Having an agenda is a great way to keep everyone on track during the meeting and can help minimize distractions or unnecessary topics. If something does come up that is not on the agenda, take note of it and address it after the meeting. This will help keep things moving in the right direction and avoid confusion. You can always circle back!
Sending the outline ahead of time is ideal. This way, attendees know precisely why they’re coming and how much time needs to be dedicated to each issue at hand. This will help keep your meetings on point while avoiding confusion or overlap.
4. Choose Your Meeting Space (Virtual or In-Person)
The meeting space is important. Can people attend virtually? Or do they need to be in the office? Or can it be a mix of both?
Make sure to clearly define where the meeting is and what the expectations are for attendance, too.
If your meeting involves technology—especially in hybrid meeting environments—troubleshoot any issues five to 10 minutes beforehand. Make sure the connections are stable and employees can call in. Get the IT team involved if necessary.
With in-person meetings, pick somewhere quiet that is equipped with necessary items, like screensharing capabilities, marker boards, enough seats, and more.
5. Have a Primary Facilitator
This person will ensure the session runs smoothly and on schedule. They should keep track of time, take notes, and ensure everyone stays on task. If you are facilitating the meeting, familiarize yourself with all tools needed (chat software, notes apps, etc.).
They’ll also make sure the meeting ends on time!
6. Send a Reminder
Ideally, a meeting invite is created days before the meeting is needed. The day of the meeting, send a reminder to the meeting’s chat—that might be Slack, Teams, an email thread, or something else—about the meeting’s objective and any necessary items the team members need to have ready.
7. Encourage Participation
Encourage participation from everyone in the meeting! Don’t let a few people dominate the conversation—try to get others involved by asking questions or inviting comments. Healthy involvement from everyone can boost meeting productivity.
Without participation, it’s hard to run an effective meeting. Make sure that everyone in the office has time to share their thoughts and opinions on relevant topics in an unforced way. While this may take slightly more time than a quick-fire brainstorming session, you will receive valuable feedback from your team members—which can only make your meetings more effective.
At the same time, if no one has anything left to add, don’t force conversation! It’s okay for meetings to end early.
8. Start and End on Time
For employees, nothing is more frustrating than attending a meeting that starts or ends late. Make sure to begin and end meetings on time. If something comes up that causes the meeting to run over, let everyone know before it happens to adjust their schedules if necessary. It might not be necessary for everyone to stay overtime, too.
Remember: only have the people there who need to be there. Respectfully ask the employees if they have the time to stay a couple extra minutes, and if they do, great. If not, address the concern in a message or email later on.
9. Send Meeting Notes and Recap After the Meeting Ends
After the meeting has ended, send out notes to recap what was discussed during the meeting. This will help everyone remember what they talked about and serve as a reminder for those who missed it. In addition, this is very helpful if someone needs to step into another person’s role or take over their responsibilities.
Follow-ups remind people of action items they need to complete after the meeting, too, which leads to…
10. Create an Action Plan for the Next Steps
The meeting agenda should have a section at the end for a clear action plan of the next steps for all the meeting participants. This is so everyone knows exactly what they need to do to meet their goals. If you don’t have all these details fleshed out before your team leaves, it makes it harder for them to succeed since they won’t know how or where to start.
Rather than setting more meetings for checking in about progress updates all the time, there will be clear instructions on what needs to get done if something comes up.
RELATED: How to Lead Effective Meetings VIDEO
11. Ask for Feedback
Allowing specific times to ask for feedback is one of the most important aspects of a meeting since the whole purpose is to get everyone’s feedback and generate ideas. To help you lead more effective meetings in the future, ask co-workers individually how meetings are going and if there is anything the meeting leader can do to improve the productivity and efficiency of the meeting.
Are the team’s goals moving forward during meetings? Do the employees feel they’re getting time to speak and share in these meetings? Are they being heard?
Having regular feedback from your employees on how the meeting went is a great way to refine and improve such discussions going ahead.
There is not much that’s worse for team morale than persistent meetings that get nothing done. (This can be indicative of an overall cultural issue, too.) Prevent this before it can even start by leading effective meetings with crystal clear agendas, communication, and action plans.