Understanding how to run an effective meeting is one of the most important skills a leader can develop. After all, time is money. Try this: Add up the amount of time you and your team spend in meetings during a given month and multiply that by the hourly rate of those in attendance. What is the cost? If the value that was gained from having the meeting is greater than the cost, that is great. However, chances are your meetings could benefit from implementing a few small tweaks to maximize the return on your investment. This is especially true now with employees meeting in-person, remotely, and hybrid.
Add these three elements into your next meeting and see if the return on your investment grows.
Have a clear purpose
Clearly define the reason you are meeting. Ask yourself, does this really require a meeting, or are we just meeting for meeting’s sake? When we need to gather or disseminate information, our natural default is to call a meeting. The reality is we can accomplish this in other ways, such as a group email, polling, group chat, etc.
Be clear on the WHY of your meeting. Identify the end result that the meeting is meant to accomplish. Here are some good reasons to meet:
- There is a new project or team, or when trust isn’t present
- When you need to share complex information and anticipate lots of questions
- If timely information or discussion is necessary
- When you are seeking buy-in or alignment for problem-solving or decision-making
- If you want to motivate the team or enhance teamwork
Notice the reasons listed above all would benefit from social interaction and a higher level of communication.
Have an agenda
Agendas help the leader maintain control of the meeting as they keep the group focused on the objectives and the goal of the meeting. Your agenda should include: an estimate of the amount of time to be spent on each item, the process for accomplishing it (e.g., group discussion, 3-minute updates from each team), and the specifics on what will be achieved. Do your best to adhere to the stated time frames during the meeting but remain flexible. I like to build in a little buffer for each item. If this means that you end the meeting early, then yahoo!
Do all meetings require an agenda? No, but it is a good habit to develop. I have a friend who pulls out a scrap piece of paper and a pen when we sit down for a social dinner. She captures what we want to achieve during our time together, so we don’t leave saying, “Oh dang, I meant to fill you in on…” Was an agenda necessary? Certainly not, but we accomplished more by having one.
Select the right participants
One of the biggest complaints I hear from participants in our meeting management program is they often don’t know why they were invited to a meeting. Both the meeting facilitator and the attendees own making sure there is clarity around participation. As a facilitator, you should only be inviting those whose authority you need, those who have or need the information, those who are involved or can help with the problem or situation, and those with a vested interest. Anyone else should be considered optional, and it should be communicated as such. As an attendee, if you aren’t clear on what value you bring – ask (politely, of course). If the value you will gain from not attending outweighs your being in the meeting, ask if you can get the meeting minutes, contribute your thoughts ahead of time, or have another attendee represent your interests.
To learn more about our meeting management program and others that we offer to help companies achieve greater clarity and grow their talent, visit our programs page or contact us to discuss customized training solutions based on your organization’s unique goals.