How many meetings have you sat in on that left you wondering; why was I even here? Effective meetings are crucial for brainstorming, troubleshooting, discussing challenges and making decisions but when they lack focus or get derailed, they can be a colossal waste of everyone’s time.
So how can you make sure your team stays focused and on topic and that the time is well spent? We reached out to meeting planners, time management experts and leaders in the field and found one thing is certain; organization and planning is key to collaboration. When it comes to running an effective meeting, whether physical or online, here are a few rules to keep in mind.
It is essential to be organized and have a purpose and schedule for every meeting that you hold. For instance, some essentials you should include on your meeting agenda are stating the objective of the meeting, going over essential items, assigning tasks and deadlines, and establishing the follow-up meeting criteria. It's also important to have a time frame for each item and try to stick to this schedule as much as possible. Consider even bringing in a physical timer so you don't spend too much time on one discussion point.
Murray Seward, CEO of Outback Team Building & Training
SET AN AGENDA
Prior to the meeting, the organizer should know exactly what they want to accomplish from that meeting.
Nissar Ahamed, Founder & CEO CareerMetis.com
At the basic level, all meetings should have an agenda, and, for the benefit of planners and introverts, the agenda should be circulated at least 24 hours ahead of time. The agendas should have times and topics, and action items from the previous meeting should be carried forward.
Lisa Sansom, management consultant LVS Consulting
Keep meetings short and about making decisions. We prefer 30-45-minute meetings with clear decisions outcomes, this stops the cycle of endless meetings and helps to keep high pressure projects on track.
Dr. Vince Repaci, Senior Coach LOVR Atlantic
The biggest issue while having online meetings with off-site employee is connectivity and other technical issues since everyone is in a different location and using a different network.
All participants should check their connection, mic, camera and other settings at least 15 minutes before the meeting time so that everything goes smoothly during the meeting. In case something goes wrong, make sure that you have an alternate option to quickly join the meeting again.
Hamna Amjad, Community Manager, Gigworker
STAY ON TOPIC
We introduced the “parking lot” concept to drive meetings forward and keep them on topic. If an attendee brings up a subject that is not directly relevant to the matter at hand, the chairperson thanks them for bringing it to everyone's attention, notes it in the parking lot (by typing it into a Google Doc), and steers the meeting back on course.
Afterward, the chairperson follows up on the parked issue as necessary — either by scheduling a meeting or through a one-on-one conversation. We’ve found that this policy keeps meetings on track, on time, and relevant to its participants.
For example, in a meeting to set hiring targets for 2019, one of my colleagues started discussing whether standardizing interview questions would be valuable. It was an excellent point but not relevant to hiring targets, so it was “parked.” I later scheduled a meeting with the hiring manager and department heads — since they sit in on job interviews — to discuss the issue properly. Samuel Johns, Career Counselor and Resume Expert, Resume Genius
Leave with actionable items for all parties involved, a decision to be made (or already made), and a goal in mind for the next steps.
Nathan Fuller, Marketing & Sales Coordinator Launch Team, Inc.
Document the key decisions and actions in a simple way so the team can find them easily and track their completion.
Dr. Vince Repaci, Senior Coach LOVR Atlantic LOVR Atlantic