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How To Run Effective Meetings

Mar 26, 2021

Multiethnic group of young people sitting in conference room and brainstorming on business meeting-1Meetings can be frustrating, yes?

They are often time-consuming, disruptive, and expensive—and it often seems like the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Especially when it feels as though you and your team didn't actually accomplish anything.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

When you know how to run effective meetings, you can ensure team alignment, motivate your employees, and increase engagement and collaboration—ultimately strengthening relationships and team cohesion. It just takes planning, purpose, and persistence on the part of the leader. Here are some tips for how to run meetings in ways that will make each meeting more valuable.

5 tips for running effective meetings

1. Identify the purpose

If your meeting doesn't have a compelling purpose, you probably don't need to meet. Determine the purpose of your meeting before deciding anything else. Your goal or purpose might be to:

  • Make a decision
  • Reach a common agreement 
  • Solve a problem
  • Resolve differences or misunderstandings
  • Inform your team of something
  • Present ideas
  • Plan and prepare for action
  • Give or get feedback
  • Provide training
  • Generate enthusiasm 

Finally, ask yourself, "Does the meeting purpose justify the meeting cost (time, number of people, opportunity cost, etc.)?" If not, forget the meeting and look for a simpler way to fulfill the purpose.

2. Set and share an agenda

After you identify the purpose of your meeting and determine the meeting is worth having, the next step is creating and sharing the agenda. Invite employees who can make unique contributions. Be sure to include the agenda on the invitation so that employees know what to expect and how to prepare. Start and end your meeting on time.

3. Keep attendees engaged

Set the expectation that employees should be focused on the business at hand (as opposed to responding to texts or emails). Assign participant roles (e.g., a designated note-taker) before the meeting starts. Once it does start, you may wish to start with a brief icebreaker to help employees relax and focus. Plan to check in with employees every 10 minutes or so, and minimize distractions such as phones and laptops.

4. Make meetings more inclusive

Work gets accomplished when you create a safe space for people to express their opinions. Encourage team members to take handwritten notes, break people into groups to complete a task or make a decision, have employees record questions that come up during the meeting, and ask questions that prompt deeper discussion.

5. Establish clear next steps and who-does-what

As a leader, you want to ensure that the members of your team are leaving your meeting with clarity and purpose. Sum up the meeting with notes and action items, assign action items with deadlines to specific employees, make notes and action items available to all participants, and follow up on discussions that were tabled. 

How long should meetings be?

The length of your meetings really depends on the meeting's purpose. Here are some general guidelines for meeting duration based on the purpose or goal of your meeting.

  • Status Update Meetings: 10 to 15 meetings
  • General Team Meetings: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Problem-Solving Meetings: 45 minutes to 1 hour
  • Strategy Meetings: 1 to 2 hours
  • Decision-Making Meetings: 1 to 4 hours, depending on the decision being made
  • One-on-One Meetings: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Looking to make your meetings more effective?

Sometimes meeting with your employees separately for shorter periods of time is more effective than meeting with your entire team for hours. Check out our recent blog​​​​​​​—How To Run Effective One-on-One Meetings With Employees—and get tips for nurturing the relationship between you and the individual members of your team.

Looking for a more hands-on approach? If you're ready to transform office communication, I invite you to reach out to me today. Together we'll determine how I can best help you, your team and your company. 

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