Companies spend a lot of time hosting meetings these days. Whether it's a conference to discuss an upcoming project, or simply a get-together to go over your goals for the months ahead, the only way to make your meetings as efficient and effective as possible, is to plan them carefully ahead of time.
In a world where your high-performing tech teams don't have time to handle complex or unproductive meetings, every minute counts. The following action tips may look familiar. You may even think they are so obvious and that you have seen then discussed in other articles. You may be right.
My question to you though is: Do you use all the following 9 strategies in your meetings? If not, when you start, they will help you to transform your group sessions into positive, constructive, and profit-producing encounters.
Before Your Meeting...
The things you do before your meeting will lay the foundations for what you hope to achieve. Preparing the right resources, establishing a goal, and identifying the right participants for your meetings will ensure that every conversation is as productive as possible.
1. Consider Your Desired Outcomes
Before you host a meeting that contributes to even more overwhelm for your busy staff members, ask yourself what you want to accomplish. For instance, if you're launching a new IT infrastructure, then it makes sense that you'd invite members of your IT and DevOps teams. However, you might not need the input of your sales and marketing staff.
Additionally, knowing what your goals are ahead of time will help you to choose the perfect tools, and materials to complement your dialogue. For instance, do you need a software demonstration to introduce employees to a new tool?
2. Invite Only Essential Participants
Knowing who to include in a meeting can be complicated. You want everyone in your organisation to feel like part of the team, but it's important not to waste the time of people who won't benefit from the discussion you're having.
Only invite people who are going to contribute to the conference or take value from the information you'll be providing. You can always plan to distribute information to anyone else who might want to stay "up to date" with what your organisation is doing.
3. Choose the Right Space
Make sure you choose a conference room that has plenty of space for everyone you want to include in your meeting. If you're communicating with only a few in-house employees and a lot of remote employees, then a simple huddle room with video conferencing facilities might be enough.
On the other hand, if the people attending your meeting are all in-house, consider whether any additional tools might make it easier to present your ideas to them.
During the Meeting...
When the meeting is underway, it's up to you to retain attention and keep everyone focused on the task at hand. Remember, the way you set up your meeting room will be important here. For instance, if you're just delivering information, a lecture-style format will be fine. On the other hand, if you want team participation, then a cabaret-style round-table set-up might be better, so everyone feels included in the conversation.
1. Appoint a Meeting Leader
Make sure there's someone available to launch and lead the meeting. They can introduce the goals of your conversation, set a positive tone for the interaction among employees, and outline any etiquette guidelines you expect employees to follow (such as no interruptions or using smartphones).
2. Use Resources Carefully
If you set up graphs, presentations and visual resources to support your meeting, now is the time to use them. The right materials can help to keep your attendees interested - particularly during a lengthy meeting where it might be difficult for employees to follow all the new information given to them.
If you're concerned that your staff might be having trouble keeping up, list the key "takeaway points" you want them to remember at the end of the meeting.
3. Get Participants Involved
If you're having trouble keeping people engaged during your meetings, then look for ways to make the experience more inclusive. Asking employees to share their thoughts on new methodologies and ideas might shake them out of their stupor and ensure they spend more time listening, and less time staring at their smartphones.
After the Meeting Comes to an End...
It's important to follow up on a big meeting to ensure that everyone's on the same page. Reminding your staff what they need to do next, publishing deadlines, or even asking your team how they felt about the meeting are all great ways to boost engagement.
1. Set Milestones
If you discussed changes you want to implement or goals you want to achieve in your meeting, publish deadlines for those targets on your company intranet. This will push people to respond actively to the messages they heard during your last conversation and ensure everyone feels enthusiastic and ready to get started.
2. Give People a Chance to Ask Questions
Although most managers in a meeting environment will give their employees a chance to ask questions or raise concerns at the end of the conversation, some of your staff might not feel comfortable discussing their worries in public. Send out a quick email asking people to talk to you if they feel uncertain about the topics you discussed.
3. Debrief at the Next Meeting
The next time you bring the same team members together for a meeting, take a moment to talk about what you discussed previously. Highlight the progress you've made in your path towards changes or organisational ambitions, and invite employees to share experiences that might be relevant to the rest of the group.