Do you ever open up your diary and dread the meetings that are to come? We’ve all felt this way before. The truth is, there’s an art to effectively running meetings, but often this art can be lost with varying working methodologies and also slipping into a routine which needs to be refreshed.
It’s no secret that some organisations fall into the trap of too many meetings. Hybrid working and remote working models have only made it easier to jump from one Zoom call to another.
So, if you’re struggling with getting out of the meeting slump, here are our top tips to effectively run meetings!
1. Be strict with your timings
Not every meeting needs to be half an hour - instead, think realistically about how long it will take to go through everything and whether you will need additional time for questions. The more succinct you can be with your timings, the better.
2. Really think about who does (and doesn’t) need to be there
Especially with leadership meetings where there are multiple individuals from different functions, large group meetings can often feel unproductive or demotivating if not everybody needs to be there.
If you’re clear about an agenda and what is being discussed, you can also decide who does (and doesn’t) need to be present. People’s diaries and their time are precious, so have this front of mind when scheduling meetings.
3. Trust people’s judgement if they don’t show up
Similar to point #2, trust that if someone doesn’t turn up to a meeting - it’s for a valid reason. Of course, if someone is consistently not showing up or being present when they are in meetings, that’s a separate issue. However, if someone is setting boundaries and is good with their time - don’t question it!
4. Always have an agenda
What are you trying to achieve in the meeting? Is it clear what is going to be covered? Of course, there will be times when setting a strict agenda may not be achievable - but you want to have at least 1-3 things that will be covered, so everybody is aware of what they need to prepare for - or what they’ll be expected to talk about.
“It may seem like an obvious requirement, but a lot of meetings start with no clear sense of purpose. The meeting’s agenda can be summarized on a handout, written on a whiteboard or discussed explicitly at the outset, but everyone should know why they’ve gathered and what they’re supposed to be accomplishing. The agenda provides a compass for the conversation, so the meeting can get back on track if the discussion wanders off course.” - NYT
5. Notes are key
Assign a different person at the beginning of each meeting to take notes; they can be bullet points or more extensive depending on what you discuss, but often with meetings - especially if they’re over 30 minutes, it can be difficult to retain all the information. Notes keep you and everybody else in the loop and accountable.
6. Be mindful of when you choose to have them
Back-to-back meetings on a Monday or Friday are everybody’s worst nightmare - even if they’re necessary. Think tactfully about what your meeting is concerning and how this will work with everybody’s week.
Where possible, check with attendees what works best for them and try to find a middle ground - that way you are encouraging people to set boundaries, whilst also still prioritising meetings and enabling them to be as present and engaged as possible when they attend them.
7. Review them every quarter
It’s important to review your meetings regularly to check whether you still need them, or whether they can be adjusted in any way. Just like you’d do a quarterly review on performance, think of it as housekeeping for the whole team and their diaries.
8. Keep them fun
Meetings don’t always need to be doom and gloom - make sure you’re catching up with team members on a personal level as well as professionally and try (depending on the circumstances) to keep them light-hearted and fun.
9. Always have an action at the end of the meeting
This goes without saying - but conclude your meeting with meaning. What are the next steps And, who is going to fulfil those? Action is key.