I once had a manager who would sit at the head of the boardroom table every Monday morning and the first words out of her mouth were “Okay, guys, a fast game’s a good game, so let’s make it snappy!” (She would then skull a can of Pepsi Max!).
While we were usually always done within 30 minutes or so, it often felt very rushed and pretty superficial. On the other hand, I have also taken part in way too many meetings that were still going two hours later, discussing things that really didn’t need to be raised with the whole team present.
So what’s the happy medium?
How can you conduct a meeting that engages, inspires and actually achieves results? Here are five steps that might help.
1. Have a Purpose
The first thing is to have a purpose. Why is the meeting being held? Is it just because you always have one, or is there an actual reason for dragging everyone into a room or on to a call and putting the outside world on hold for an hour?
A meeting is actually a perfect opportunity to achieve a lot of things. It is a chance to catch everybody up on what is going on in the overall scheme of things. It is an opportunity to gauge how each individual is traveling and to identify potential problems. It’s also a chance to reinforce your mission statement and refocus everyone on the team goals.
Team goals should actually be at the heart of every team meeting. If your goal is to make more sales, then everything discussed at the meeting should reflect this in some way.
2. Have an Agenda
If you have a purpose, you must have a meeting agenda. This is a list of the things you want to cover in the time available. Looking at your agenda will give you a rough idea of how much time you can afford to devote to each item, because time is an important element of team meetings.
They should start on time and only go for the allotted time. If some items on the agenda require more time than is available, they should be moved to the next meeting or, if urgent, a separate meeting should be held with those immediately involved.
Meetings should also be held regularly. Whether it’s every Monday morning (the ideal time to plan the week ahead), or every day, they should be held when you say they will and everyone should be encouraged to arrive punctually.
Meetings that are called at the last minute or constantly postponed are an indication that you do not have respect for your team.
3. Encourage Participation
If the purpose of your meeting is relevant to those in attendance (and if it isn’t, they shouldn’t be there), then you want them to participate in the discussion and be involved in the decision-making.
You can do this by going around the table to get everyone’s input. You can also mix up the roles, so that it is not just your jaw flapping all the time. Rotate the chair, so that those who wish to can lead the discussion.
People will become genuinely enthused about your meetings if they are encouraged to participate and can see that something is actually being achieved. They will begin to take ownership of the meetings by turning up on time and contributing to the discussion.
4. Take Minutes
Someone should be assigned to take the minutes at every meeting (ideally someone different each time). The minutes are your record of what was discussed and decided at the meeting and they help to set the agenda for the following meeting.
A copy of the minutes should be shared with (and be accessible to) everyone who attended the meeting. This serves as a reminder of what was discussed and prompts those who were assigned tasks during the meeting to set about accomplishing them before the next meeting. At RecruitLoop we use Asana to keep track of all meetings.
5. Use Technology
With the growing trend towards a more mobile workforce, holding regular face-to-face meetings is becoming less desirable for many teams. In this case, technology can be utilised to conduct virtual meetings via phone and video links.
People can participate from various locations, using their smart phones or tablets to log into a central meeting site. At RecruitLoop we either use Skype or Zoom.us for our team meetings since our team spans five countries.
If we are doing a ‘virtual’ meeting, even attendees in the same office log in to the technology separately so nobody gets preferential treatment.
Effective team meetings can benefit everyone by:
- Keeping individual team members in the loop;
- Providing valuable clues to potential problems that you can then head off; and
- Helping to raise morale and engender a greater sense of teamwork.
In short, effective meetings can increase your team’s productivity and your organisation’s profitability.
So what are you waiting for? Name the date, send out the invites and get working on your agenda, because it’s time to hold a meeting and start communicating with your team!