Meetings can either be a productive and collaborative tool or drain valuable time and resources. It’s all in how they are conducted. As the format of meetings continues to shift into a hybrid mix of in-person and remote, running an efficient meeting is increasingly vital for a productive week. From setting clear objectives and agendas to managing time effectively and engaging participants, we’ll cover every aspect of creating meetings that leave everyone feeling accomplished rather than exhausted.
How to Prepare for an Efficient Meeting
When, what time, and where are the three questions that need to be answered to set up an efficient meeting. We recommend checking the calendars of your coworkers or team members before you decide upon a time and date. It will minimize the amount of communication needed to decide on a time.
Send the materials
With the meeting invitation, include any slide decks, pdf, images, videos, or links the participants should review beforehand. It ensures everyone has the same information and no one will need to ask for it during the meeting. That being said, do not inundate everyone with a bunch of attachments.
Avoid technical difficulties
Besides the materials, remote and hybrid offices can avoid technical issues ahead of time by checking cables, updates, Bluetooth connection, and anything else needed to run the meeting. Spending five minutes before the meeting can keep the meeting on time instead of cutting into time.
What is the Meeting’s Purpose?
You’ve probably sat in a meeting that could have been a quick phone call or email instead. Nothing is more frustrating than attending a meeting that wastes your time. There are a number of reasons meetings happen, such as recurring team progress reports, project presentations, decision-making, goal planning, etc.
Each person attending should know why the meeting is happening, what they need to prepare ahead of time, and why they are attending the meeting. A shared purpose helps to drive participation and motivation as the team will be excited to push the needle a step together.
Make an Agenda
Dreams can only come true if there is a plan of action. Agendas keep the conversation on track, organized, and efficient. How long an agenda is depends on what needs to be accomplished in a meeting. Each item should be relevant to the purpose of the meeting and lead to an actionable plan by the end of the meeting.
The agenda is usually included in the meeting invitation as a checklist or bullet points to keep on hand. Sometimes it can include timestamps or assigned team members for presentations. Throughout the meeting, you can check off each item as you complete them.
How to Moderate the Conversation
Lead by example
Often, the team will look to their managers to dictate how strictly they adhere to start/stop times, the formality of the meeting, and more.
The more questions are asked, the more information leaders have to make an informed decision. Be sure to ask how someone achieves success as replicating good processes is equally as important as recovering from mistakes. Even if your questions seem obvious, the answers you receive may surprise you.
When managers are the most experienced individuals in the room, it can be easy to focus on instructional advice instead of active listening. Instead of thinking of your response, allow yourself to absorb the information and guide your team to the answer. It may take a bit longer, but any learning opportunity can’t be passed up.
Psychological safety means everyone in the room feels able to share their true opinions without fear of backlash. It takes time to build relationships and, therefore, time to build trust. Invest in your employees and they will feel safe to be honest with you. The more honesty and trust you have, the better you can achieve success together.
Who is the decision maker?
Depending on your management style, the answer to this question may vary. A more experienced manager with a project deadline may be the final decision maker. Yet, a team of subject matter experts may be helping the team manager make an informed decision. Knowing ahead of time who is the decision maker will help your team make decisions faster.
Balancing who talks
Part of moderating a conversation is noticing who is speaking the most and who is speaking the least. Who speaks up the most can depend on personality type, expertise, and even gender identity. It takes an experienced leader to know when someone is holding back an opinion and when they are an introvert.
Make an Action Plan in the Last 5 Minutes
Take the last five minutes of any meeting to make an action plan. Documenting the next steps, timelines, and ownership is vital to keeping the ball rolling. Even if you need more information to take action, knowing who can get the answers and by when still qualifies as an action plan. Plus, a quick wrap-up leaves everyone with a sense of purpose and momentum. Don’t forget to leave a minute or more to answer any questions.
Ask for Feedback
Becoming a better leader is an ongoing process and any chance for feedback can help you turn weaknesses into strengths. Sending a post-meeting anonymous feedback form encourages honest opinions. If the feedback is positive, you can collect it over time as evidence for future promotions, bonuses, stretch opportunities, and more.
Remember, efficiency in meetings not only saves time but also boosts morale and fosters a culture of accountability and productivity within your team or organization. As you continue to refine your meeting management skills, you’ll find that your workdays become more streamlined, and your team becomes more engaged and motivated. Management styles and tips like this can make all the difference for leaders trying to climb the corporate ladder. The International Association of Women provides resources for professional women leaders and a space for women to find support and empowerment globally.
Our members are industry leaders, groundbreaking entrepreneurs, and amazing working mothers who continually push boundaries while lifting up others. If that sounds like you, then join our community today at https://join.iawomen.com/new-member