Team meetings are essential for the success of any team, but they can also be a drain on time and energy if not run efficiently.
Consider this; your boss has put you in charge of running team meetings for your department. You want to make sure that these meetings are productive and helpful for everyone involved, but you’re unsure how to do that. After all, team meetings can often be a wasted effort if you don’t run them properly.
For example, team meetings can quickly derail if team members start talking about unrelated topics. Other common challenges people have with team meetings include: team members talking about unrelated topics, not having a clear agenda, meetings running overtime, and team members not feeling comfortable sharing their ideas.
If you’ve ever struggled with team meetings that seem to go nowhere, you’re not alone. Far too often, team meetings are unproductive and waste time. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are a few simple tips that you can follow to make sure your team meetings are successful.
1. Set a clear agenda
One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your team meetings are successful is to set a clear agenda. Make sure everyone is on the same page before the meeting starts. It’s important that everyone knows what the meeting will be about before it starts, so that team members can come prepared with any questions or ideas they might have. Without a clear agenda, team meetings can quickly become derailed and end up being a waste of time.
Some tips for setting a clear agenda include:
Send the agenda in advance:
Send the agenda out to team members a few days before the meeting so that they have time to prepare any questions or thoughts they might have.
Be clear about what the meeting will cover:
Make sure it’s clear what the meeting will be about, so that team members can come prepared with questions or ideas related to the topic. Also, outlining what the meeting covers allows you to verify, ahead of time, the meeting length. If you think a meeting will run long, consider booking a follow-up meeting or plan to host a breakout session for only relevant people.
Set time limits for each agenda item:
Setting time limits for each agenda item can keep the meeting on track and ensure that it doesn’t run overtime.
Include a call to action for each item:
Make sure there’s a specific goal or action that you and the team need to accomplish for each agenda item. Having a clear goal will help team members focus on what needs to be done and ensure that the meeting is productive.
2. Start and end on time
Another important tip for running successful team meetings is starting and ending on time. Team meetings that run over are often unproductive and can leave team members feeling resentful. It’s essential to respect team members’ time by starting the session when you say you will and ending the meeting when it’s supposed to end. The discussion feels productive, and attendees feel encouraged to participate in future meetings.
Some tips for starting and ending team meetings on time include:
Start the discussion on time:
Respect team members’ time by starting the meeting when you say you will. This way, team members won’t feel like you’re wasting their time.
Add a few minutes of “buffer time”:
End the meeting when it’s supposed to end, so that team members don’t become restless and disengaged. Leave time at the end of the session for team members to ask questions. Also, consider adding 10-15 minutes of “buffer time” to the end of your meeting. So instead of booking an hour block, book 45 minutes and use the remaining time to answer questions or organize meeting notes.
3. Encourage team members to share their ideas
Another important tip for running successful team meetings is encouraging team members to share their ideas. A team meeting is a chance for everyone to contribute, so make sure everyone feels comfortable doing so. It’s essential to create an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, as this can help to make the meeting more productive.
Some tips for encouraging team members to share their ideas include:
Create an open and inclusive environment:
Make team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas by creating an open and inclusive environment. For example, start the meeting with an icebreaker or ask team members to share recent personal and professional wins.
Encourage team members to ask questions:
Encourage team members to ask questions throughout the meeting, as this can help to generate new ideas and keep the discussion flowing. Throughout the meeting, ask attendees if they have questions or thoughts about the information shared. By actively encouraging team members to share their ideas, they feel like their input is valued.
Listen to team members’ ideas:
Make sure you’re actually listening to team members’ ideas and considering them. Listening and showing interest will help team members feel like their opinions matter and encourage them to continue speaking up.
4. Keep the meeting focused
Another important tip for running successful team meetings is to keep the meeting focused. Team meetings can quickly become derailed if team members start talking about unrelated topics. It’s important to stay on topic and avoid getting sidetracked, as this can quickly make the meeting unproductive.
Some tips for keeping team meetings focused include:
Staying on topic:
One way to keep team meetings focused is to stick to the agenda. This way, team members will know what needs discussion and can stay on track. If team members start talking about unrelated topics, gently remind them of the agenda and steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.
Also, remind attendees of the meeting’s purpose and goals and keep them focused on the discussion. Focusing on the desired outcomes of the meeting can help team members stay engaged and prevent the meeting from veering off track.
5. Follow up with a summary after the meeting
Another important tip for running successful team meetings is to follow up with a summary after the meeting. Send a review of what you all discussed and assigned action items. This will help keep everyone on track and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. A meeting debrief is also an excellent way to ensure that team members are on the same page and know what needs to be done. It’s also a perfect way to keep team members accountable for their actions.
Some tips for following up with a summary after team meetings include:
Assign tasks during the meeting and send them as a reminder afterward. Task assignments help ensure that team members are accountable for their actions, and everyone helps accomplish the desired meeting outcome. Include a summary of what each task includes, who’s responsible, and a completion deadline.
You’re on your way to improved team meetings
To sum up, team meetings are an essential part of any team’s success. Take the tips shared and create your own process and corresponding workflows to ensure that:
- Team members understand meeting goals
- Provide insightful feedback, and
- Understand their responsibilities afterward.
You can ensure that team meetings are effective and successful by using these tips as a starting point in developing your processes for efficient team meetings.
Do you have any other suggestions? Please share them in the comments below!