Want to get better at hosting meetings and driving more engagement? Try some of these ideas:
Determine the length. Ask yourself: is this a Strategy or Operational meeting? Do we need to troubleshoot an issue, or do we need to check-in, get on the same page and create next steps? An operational meeting should be no more than an hour - to the point, confirm responsibilities, create next steps and finish. Strategic meetings need more time (1-2 hours) because people need to actively think, listen, reflect, manage disagreements, and build consensus.
Get the right people in the room. Determine who needs to be there. Decide what action needs to happen as a result of the meeting, then don't hold the meeting unless the right people are in the room.
Develop noun-focused outcomes. Instead of verb-focused outcomes like,
- "We will brainstorm solutions to increasing cross-team communication."
Try focusing on an output you will have by the end of the meeting:
- "We have a list of 5 potential solutions by the end of the meeting."
By focusing on a tangible output, it becomes easier for all to measure progress toward the goal during the meeting.
Create the agenda. Smaller is better. Once you have determined the meeting outcome, develop a pathway of people and discussions that will get you there. Organize possible agenda items by “Must Haves” and “Nice to Haves”. Try getting your agenda down to 1 or 2 items for some meetings. This will keep conversations on track and on time. If there is extra time, throw in a “Nice to Have”, or finish the meeting early. Participants will thank you for it and look forward to future meetings.
- Who will get the video conference working and arrive 15 minutes early?
- Who will take minutes and send them out after?
- Who will facilitate and have authority from the group to politely interrupt conversations when things get off track? How can you ensure they get the buy-in from others (senior management) to do so?
- Who will manage the video conference system, chat windows, and questions and input from remote colleagues?
- Who will report out on next steps and follow-up actions, and who will follow-up with those people?
- Depending on the size of your team, the same person may have multiple roles in the meeting. However, it is unreasonable to expect the project manager, meeting leader or facilitator to do all of these well. The more roles you can divvy up to other meeting participants, the more engagement you will get in the meeting.
- What roles can you assign remote colleagues to keep them engaged?
- What roles can you rotate weekly/monthly so that the same person isn’t always taking minutes or setting up technology?
Facilitator, manage the meeting!
- Confirm the ground rules (next week I will post an article, “Create Groundbreaking Ground Rules for Meetings.” Click below to get notified when this article is posted.
- Get the energy up. Do a lightning round of quick wins/progress (1 minute per person).
- Create a Parking Lot or a written list (whiteboard is great for this) of discussion topics that take the agenda off track. These are topics that are important to follow-up on either outside of the meeting or at another meeting.
- Stick to the time you set. Do NOT go over, this creates lowered engagement and trust for future meetings. If anything finish early to give people back their time for mingling, additional conversations, or getting back to their work.
- Check-in with remote colleagues frequently. Ask remote colleagues for their input and questions before asking people in the room. Remind participants to be mindful of remote colleagues, remembering that microphones usually pick up shuffling papers and side conversations.
- Celebrate! You ran a successful meeting!
- Send out the minutes and next-steps (designated role person will do this).
- Document lessons learned. Collect input from participants. What went well? Document it. What could be tweaked for next time? Document it.
TO GET MORE...
Check out these additional resources for more tips on running effective meetings:
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Structuring Better Meetings, HBR.org
- 10 Facilitation Techniques that will Make Your Meetings Sing, Meeteor.com