News, Links & More
Meetings are a necessary part of work, but many of us look over the day’s schedule and groan when we see a meeting coming up. Too often, meetings focus on delivering information - which could be done via email - or they are called urgently to deal with a problem. To make your meetings effective, focus on these key factors:
Preparation is essential. Decide on a space and make sure it is available before you set the meeting time. When you do set the time, set it far enough in advance so you have time to prepare well. Gather any materials long before the day of the meeting. Make sure technology is ready and working. And do not forget to get yourself ready - eat, hydrate, dress well, come in confident.
The small things end up being big when it comes to running meetings. Set a very clear agenda and stick to it, using it to refocus the meeting when necessary. Make sure to take minutes or have someone reliable take minutes so that all the good work done in a meeting is not lost. Have a clear policy about devices that are not needed - they should be out of sight and silenced.¹
Too many people at a meeting can reduce a meeting’s effectiveness, so keep meetings small if you can.² More than 8 people in a meeting can lead to inefficiency, as well as frustration and a lack of participation.¹ And limit the duration of your meetings. We’ve all been in meetings that go on for an hour or more, even though productivity and effectiveness decline rapidly after 30 minutes.¹
Though all of the preparation for the meeting is a lot of work, so is the meeting itself, especially keeping the participants on task. An effective meeting gets participants involved by providing opportunities for participation that are various, diverse, and non-threatening.
As an example, if you're running a meeting at a used car dealership to discuss Dealerpull’s easy to use UCDA bill-of-sale digital retailing, get introverts involved with a round-robin activity and break your team up into smaller groups a few times to give every voice time to be heard.³ Meetings are a great way to train employees whenever you adopt new sales management software.
Understand that your role in running the meeting is to actively manage interactions.³ Devote yourself to getting good at providing genuine encouragement, defusing the occasional tense moment with a timely comment, and asking good questions. These skills are not easy to develop, but they all hinge on one thing - listening.⁴ It is not possible to manage interactions if you do not listen carefully.
Setting a good, positive vibe is another way to improve participation. Build in time to celebrate successes and consider having some fun or trendy music playing as people arrive.⁴ These are not silly gimmicks, they are necessary to creating positive energy that increases satisfaction, camaraderie, and creativity.¹
You have prepared well and managed participants well, but you are not done yet, you need to wrap things up well too. Recap what has been done by giving a quick overview. Clarify what work needs to be done and divide it up and set due dates.¹ Aim for fairness, even assigning work if you must - you do not want a great meeting to end in a sour struggle over who will do what.
More and more meetings are being run virtually. A few major platforms, such as Zoom and Google Meet, are well-known to most people by now, but there are other platforms that could be useful for your meeting needs, such as Trello. Test a few platforms instead of just using what you know. Each one has interesting opportunities to increase participation in a virtual world.¹
Whichever platform you use, running virtual meetings effectively has unique challenges. It is even more important to have clear guidelines. Design a policy sheet that clearly and kindly outlines guidelines for camera use, the use of chat features, and arrival and departure.¹ Most people will not purposefully try to derail a meeting, they just need some good guidance from you.
Good preparation, encouraging participation, ending well, and adapting to a changing world are all important to running effective meetings. Meetings can even be effective ways to address mistakes and employee burnout, common workplace issues that can be turned into opportunities with some strategic planning and careful listening. Finally, do not be afraid to shake things up a bit - call a meeting at an usual time, or why not have it outside?¹