Ugh, meetings. Does anyone really like them? No matter how much employees may groan over their distaste for the conference room, managers understand how necessary getting together with the team really is. That doesn’t mean face-to-face communication needs to involve reverting to the unbearably boring method of reading a PowerPoint presentation word-for-word. Instead, take these tips for holding efficient and effective meetings your team will be happy to attend.
Step 1: Define the Objective
Ever felt like you deserved one of those “I survived another meeting that should have been an email” ribbons? Yeah, we all have. Don’t do that to your employees. Instead, clearly define what the objective of your meeting is before sending the invite. Is this a creative brainstorm? Are you trying to determine the budget for an upcoming campaign? Defining your purpose will help set clear expectations to ensure goals are met and everyone stays on the same page. If your objective is a simple one, you may even find that you don’t need a meeting at all.
Step 2: Invite the Right People
Once you’ve determined the point of your meeting, selecting participants should be a breeze. Only invite employees who will be directly involved in reaching the objective. If you’re thinking about bringing someone into the conference room “just as an FYI,” stop right there! Remember that email is a thing that exists. Sending a quick follow-up email to all participants and peripheral team members post-meeting will keep the lines of communication open without wasting anyone’s time.
Step 3: Provide an Agenda
In order to keep the conversation as productive as possible, send an agenda to your team members prior to your scheduled meeting time. This will ensure that time is kept efficiently and will prevent the conversation from getting side-tracked. An agenda can be a detailed list of discussion items or you can keep it simple by using our free meeting agenda template.
Step 4: Select the Right Location
Where you hold your meeting will set the tone for the conversation ahead, so choose wisely. While a traditional conference room is likely to be your first option for a formal discussion with outside clients, a casual touchdown space is a much better choice for quick chats with the team. Consider the size of the group, the technology needs of the conference and the environmental atmosphere needed to hold a productive meeting. For help defining what type of meeting should be held in what type of space, check out the six types of meetings and where they should be held.
Step 5: Encourage Participation
If your employees wanted to be lectured, they’d stay in college. Talk with your meeting members rather than at them by encouraging active participation in the conversation. To accomplish this, ask everyone on the team to come prepared with one opinion or idea to share with the group. Go around the room so that everyone has a chance to speak up and then keep the flow alive by asking open-ended questions that will help spark new ideas.
Step 6: Manage Time Effectively
Sharing the details of your fun weekend is great, but it’s not what meetings are for. Use your agenda to stay on schedule and plot out your meeting time. You can even take things a step further by appointing a designated time keeper. Whether it’s you or someone else, it should be this person’s job to watch the clock and move the conversation along to the next agenda item if time is escaping you.
Step 7: Use the Parking Lot Method
The parking lot method is a way of tabling ideas brought up in a meeting that do not directly relate to the discussion at hand. Use your agenda as a guide for deciding what items should be placed in the parking lot, then clearly state that you will follow up with the subject at a later date. Remember that the only effective way to utilize the parking lot method is to also utilize active follow-ups.
Step 8: Reiterate Clear Action Items
Remember when we told you that meetings need an objective to be useful? They also need to end with clear action items. Write down every action brought up in your meeting and save a few minutes at the end to read them aloud to the group. As soon as the meeting is over, send a follow-up email to the group to reiterate who needs to do what action item and by when.
From defining clear objectives to holding co-workers accountable via firm action items, utilizing these eight steps will ensure every meeting held in your office is beneficial. Kiss the days of mind-numbing PowerPoints goodbye and say hello to an era of positive meetings your employees will actually want to attend. Yes, it is possible.
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