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Are meetings necessary? Conducting a meeting is an integral part of every workplace. It’s a way for teams to gather, exchange insights, suggest solutions, share feedback and be aligned with organizational goals. While it can be time-consuming, it also offers the best opportunity for employees to build camaraderie, voice opinions and brainstorm ideas. Simply put, it’s an effective way for a company to strategize and regroup altogether.
However, not all meetings yield effective outputs. For one, it can interrupt workflows, consume a chunk of time and create backlogs. In fact, some companies hold these activities just for the sake of it — a routine to get over with — without a real agenda or purpose. We’ve all ranted about this, saying things like “This could’ve been an email” or “Why am I here?” at least once in our corporate lives. The truth is, that isn’t far from reality. Some meetings indeed could’ve been emails and not an hour-long conversation, and some team members are needlessly pulled out from their tasks for a talk that doesn’t involve them at all. And instead of boosting efficiency, it only deters employees from productivity.
But make no mistake: When meetings are done right, they can catapult teams into their objectives. From monthly goals to performance benchmarks, being in the know is paramount to a successful organization. So, here are five tips on how to run an effective meeting:
Related: 5 Ways Business Leaders Can Run a Productive Meeting
1. Have a clear agenda and 5 talking points
First and foremost, leaders should know the point of holding a meeting. If you’re going to pull out employees from their tasks and disrupt their flow, there should be a good reason and a clear agenda. Ask yourself these questions:
What is the meeting about?
What should be achieved?
How important is this meeting to momentarily pause operations?
Who should attend the meeting?
How should the meeting conclude?
If you have clear answers to these questions, you can weigh in on whether it is necessary for a meeting to take place. It all starts with the purpose. If you have a specific agenda you need to talk about with urgency, it’s wise to gather everyone in the same room. But if it’s just casual announcements that weigh no significance, consider just sending out an email.
It’s also important to limit your talking points. As much as possible, just highlight five things you want to discuss. Keep in mind that time is ticking, and everyone has their own business waiting for them when they return to their desks. Keep it short, substantial and sharp.
2. Decide what the output of the meeting should be like
Projecting a result is important in company activities — meetings included. This is a way for leaders to pivot, adjust and redirect their talking points if they think their point isn’t coming across, or if the meeting isn’t yielding their anticipated output.
Firstly, leaders need to manage expectations and answer everyone’s implied “why am I here?” question. Through this, you can maneuver and take control of the meeting’s direction and outcome. If your purpose is for everyone to be on board with a particular plan, make sure to lay out all your strategies and tactics on how to get there. Leave no stone unturned. Being on the same page in achieving a goal is integral.
Related: To Transform Your Meetings From Pitiful to Productive, Always Have an Agenda
3. Everyone in the meeting should talk
The point of a meeting is to gather participants and not spectators; hence, they should participate. If they’re not talking, they shouldn’t be in the meeting. If everyone in the meeting participates, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships with your team members, facilitate creative thinking, promote cooperation, boost inclusion, establish alignment and optimize employee engagement. What’s more, it’s the best way to conclude faster and more efficiently. The more inputs there are, the greater outputs there will be. The bottom line? Everyone should be heard.
4. Make a habit of recording meetings
Recording a meeting is like keeping the receipt of a significantly important transaction. There are several reasons why meetings should be recorded:
For teammates who aren’t on the call: More often than not, not everyone will be available to attend a scheduled meeting — they may be on leave or attending a crucial business matter that couldn’t be missed. Keeping a record of what transpired in the meeting is important for everyone’s alignment, whether they’re present or not.
To make sure everyone is focused: If everyone knows that the meeting is being recorded, there’s automatically no room for playing. Their immediate reaction is to listen, absorb and participate.
For future reference: Relying on memory about what transpired during the meeting is a risk, especially if you’re talking about crucial information. It’s best to record it for future reference.
Related: 3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Meetings
5. Leave every meeting with clear action items for the participants
Nothing is more confusing than a meeting that ends vaguely. Just like every other organizational activity, meetings should have a conclusion and call to action. It’s important to reiterate clear action items that everyone should do to arrive at a certain goal. Make every team member feel like they know exactly what to do after they leave the room. This doesn’t just promote a solid closure to your agenda — it also ignites proper implementation of your plans.
The takeaway here is to make sure you’re prepared before you gather everyone. Have a solid agenda, clear talking points, substantial insights and the right action plan. Make your next meeting an effective one by using the five tips above.