Running effective meetings

Daily or weekly meetings are part of working life and a very popular way to communicate with staff, but how many times have you felt like your time has been wasted, or you have left a meeting feeling confused? Optimising your meetings is one of the easiest ways to have a positive impact on your teams and even your entire organisation. It may seem like an obvious requirement, but a lot of meetings start with no clear sense of purpose. The first and most important thing to establish, why is this meeting taking place? Is it necessary or has it just become routine?

The most effective way to establish the purpose of a meeting is to set the goals and prepare an agenda. The agenda simply provides a compass for conversation and allows issues to be prioritised. The meeting’s agenda can be summarised 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. If there is a clear and well understood agenda or outline of the meeting type (e.g., Is it informative? Is it for brainstorming?) then it limits the time spent going off piece and perhaps moving away from the ultimate objective of the meeting in place.

Once an agenda/ the key purpose to the meeting has been established, it’s important to arrange all logistics, making sure there is a comfortable and convenient meeting place for all attendees. It’s important to arrange in advance any equipment needed and ensure this is set ready to go to avoid unnecessary time wasting. You want your employees to show up ready to contribute, feeling positive and motivated and so it’s important to minimise any reason for frustration or lack of patience. There are countless reasons that meetings start late, but it happens far too often. Delayed meetings early in the day can lead to a cascading effect that impacts everyone’s schedule for the rest of the day. Respect your colleagues by starting on time.

Another contributing factor to running an effective meeting is to take notes collaboratively. Having everyone take their own notes can lead to confusion because each attendee may hear different things, misinterpret a piece of important information or even miss information completely. Using a shared platform with everyone in the meetings ensures not only that everyone is literally ‘on the same page’ but will encourage a more switched on environment as the focus shifts from notetaking to listening and contributing.

Ending a meeting with time to collect actions, key points raised in the meeting and highlight the progress made will leave attendees feeling satisfied and make the meeting feel worthwhile. Time management is an essential element to an effective meeting, so that you don’t overrun and miss discussing key points or concerns. It’s essential to maximise the value of your meeting to get the most out of everyone to benefit not only the team but the organisation as a whole.

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