At some point, your team will likely need to convene a meeting to discuss a work-related issue. As someone in a position of leadership, it's on you to ensure the meeting runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
But how do you do that in a way that guarantees the meeting is useful? An overlong or unnecessary meeting can act as a drag on your team's productivity and effectiveness. Here's how to lead a meeting in a way that will ensure you get everyone in and out quickly while accomplishing everything you need to.
We'll look at three components of the meeting and what you'll need to do during each:
- During the meeting
Many of the steps and best practices listed here can be carried out either by you or an administrative assistant, depending on how your organization is structured. Delegate tasks where you can.
Make sure the meeting is absolutely necessary
Before you hold it, the most important question to ask yourself is this: do you absolutely need to hold the meeting? Can you handle it via email or an informal one-on-one discussion? If so, don't schedule it. It's important not to spend your team's valuable time when you can address the same issues in a more efficient manner. One study found that companies waste upwards of $399 billion on pointless meetings.
You should have a clear objective for the meeting with a desired outcome everyone understands going into it.
Have an agenda
Create an agenda with all the items you'd like to cover. This doesn't have to be detailed, but give enough information that the participants will at least understand what you'll discuss.
Know who to invite
Determine who you need to invite. If it's for a particular project, invite all parties working on it as well as anyone else on the team who may benefit from being aware of its progress. Don't go overboard on the invites, however. Amazon CEO has a rule he refers to as "the two pizza rule" - never schedule a meeting in which two pizzas cannot feed everyone there.
Schedule it for the right time
Figure out a time that works for everyone. This can be achieved by sending out a quick email asking for availability or an online poll.
Pick the right location
Hold it in a location that works for everyone. This could mean reserving a conference room at your office or holding it virtually via a video teleconference.
Send the invite
Once you've determined the meeting's content, participants, time, and location, send an email invite to all participants that includes all this information. Use whatever email platform your team uses - this typically means Outlook or Gmail.
Take copious notes
Before the meeting begins, identify someone on your team to capture meeting notes. This doesn't have to be a word-for-word recounting of what happens, but their summary should include a high-level recap of all discussions, important decisions, and action items to track following the meeting's completion.
During the meeting
Get there early
Make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes early so you can A) get started right at the appropriate time and B) set a good example for the rest of the team. At the meeting's outset, ask your team to silence their phones and to focus on the meeting at hand. Having team members continually checking their phones for emails or other updates makes it easy for them to get sidetracked. Make sure to open the phone line well before the meeting starts if you have members participating remotely.
Act as facilitator
As a team leader, think of yourself as a facilitator. While you can't control every component of the meeting, you can make sure it runs efficiently as possible. Give a quick rundown of the agenda, let each participant identify themselves (if necessary), and then dive right into the meeting content.
Once the meeting begins, you're responsible for guiding the team through the agenda. Other team members may be responsible for providing updates, but you're ultimately the one who will oversee the discussion and move the team through each item. Make sure you don't linger on any one topic too long - if you've allotted ten minutes to cover a recent project, make sure the team moves on before going over that amount of time.
Provide the team with an opportunity for questions
Give everyone an opportunity to comment and ask questions at the appropriate time. You can do this by building in time during the agenda after each portion for a quick Q&A, or by asking everyone to save their questions for the meeting's end. Having all the questions asked at the conclusion of the meeting will ensure you don't run long on any individual topic.
Your goal should be to move through the meeting as concisely as possible. Letting the discussion carry on too long can bring productivity to a screeching halt.
When it's time for the meeting to end, end the meeting
As soon as the meeting has reached its scheduled ending time, end the meeting. This shows the attendees you respect their time.
Set the next meeting date
Once the meeting has concluded, inform the team when the next meeting will be. Do this for recurring meetings or meetings on a particular project - if it's a one-off, you don't have to include this.
Provide a recap
Either read or have the team member taking notes read a quick recap of all the action items with attribution. That way if there is any confusion or if you captured information incorrectly, the team can clear it up right there on the spot. Let them know that you'll send out the meeting summary following the meeting.
Have the appropriate team member write up the meeting summary with action items that include team member attribution. Do this as quickly as possible, while the contents of the meeting are fresh on everyone's minds. A one or two day turnaround will likely suffice.
Track action items
Keep track of these action items to ensure the appropriate team member is completing them. If deadlines have been set, make sure to follow up to confirm completion. As the team leader, it's on you to either make sure your team completed the task or request an update on the task progress from the appropriate team member. Ask three questions when recording action items: who (who's responsible), what (what is the item) and when (what's the deadline).
Running a meeting is rather easy when you take time to organize it properly. By taking care before and after the meeting to follow through on the appropriate tasks, you'll ensure a seamless meeting that is more efficient and effective.
For more on learning about how to lead your team, contact us today!
Read our blog article "5 Deadly Sins of Bad Meetings" to find out what not to do at your next meeting.