11 Steps to More Effective Meetings

Meetings provide the time and structure for your team to communicate and collaborate. They can be the most productive time you spend together. But they also can be overused, poorly planned or misused as a way to just maintain power or emphasize talking points. In order to run better meetings, set a plan to fully engage both the leader and participants to achieve your common goal. Here are some steps to help make that happen:

Determine Your Objective

The common purpose for every meeting should be clearly laid out in advance. Know why you are calling a meeting and lay out clear issue to be resolved or goal to accomplish to all attendees. This specific measurable goal informs the rest of your logistical decisions.

Who's There

You can't have a meeting by yourself. The energy and input of those in attendance is one of the main goals. Think about who must be there, who would be nice and those to avoid. After confirming the schedule of the "must attends" give everyone else  enough notice to reasonably schedule.

Categorize Your Type

Know which of the six main types of meetings you are about to host.

Choose from:
1. Updates
2. Overviews
3. Informative
4. Synthesis
5. Brainstorm
6. Team Building

Arrange the Place

The place you choose will signal the meeting type, level of importance and expected attention. A quick desk overview isn't the same as an all day offsite brainstorm planned for your team. Find a place that has all the tools you require and will allow for attendees to focus without distraction.  

Set the Length

Regularly scheduled meetings shouldn't be longer than an hour.
Always strive for the shortest reasonable timeframe. The best way to get a short meeting is to do most of the work upfront, not during the meeting.  

What else do you need?

Is it a lunch meeting and you should order food? Do you need a monitor, projector or whiteboard? How about a speakerphone or auxiliary cables? Technical glitches are bound to happen but nothing crashes a meeting quicker than one you can't fix, so be prepared with backup.   

Send a pre-meeting outline

Do most of the work upfront and save everyone's time in order to make a highly productive meetings. You don't need to spend 30 minutes recapping the current state of affairs or catching everyone up on why they are there. All the critical details and expectations for the meeting need to be sent beforehand.     

Thoughtfully accumulate the information discussed

Record ideas and thoughts in a way that attendees can process and add to in real time. This can be via a laptop synced to a monitor, whiteboard, or you may opt to take notes and emphasize  important points to dive into deeper.  

Determine an action plan

How many times do you walk out of a meeting asking, "Why did we just do that?" Don't hold the action plan all to yourself. What decision is to be reached and what actions should take place as follow ups?

Go Round the Horn

If a participatory meeting, ensure everyone had a chance to be heard. Too often, important info is left unsaid because it didn't seem like the right time. Call on participants to express their opinions.

Send recap right after

Pro tip on this one: Build in 15 minutes onto the end on your calendar for after the meeting. Send out the recap and action items during this time while it's still fresh on your mind. People will always interpret things differently and that disparity only increases as days go by. This is your best chance to ensure you are on the same page.

Go out and enjoy these meetings! The more work you put in upfront, the more in sync they will become. Like anything else, it's a process but follow these steps to ensure productivity and your team will begin to learn to love their interactions instead of feeling like they are wasting time in pointless meetings.  


Post by Trent Sultemeier

MeetingsTrent Sultemeier