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8 tips for leading effective meetings

by Maria Onzain

Work meetings are a good opportunity to make important business decisions and solve problems. However, they need to be run effectively, because unorganised meetings can be a waste of time and extremely disrupting. A great team leader needs to have a wide arrange of skills and organising effective meetings will be crucial to delivering productive work.

In our Business Skills and Productivity Learning Library, you can search for online courses that will help you improve your ability to lead effective meetings. Before you dive into the interactive library though, here are eight tips to put into practice before, during and after your team meetings…

1. Invite fewer people

The more people that attend a meeting, the more difficult it becomes to manage, so avoid inviting unnecessary people. Limiting the number of attendees will help you focus on the most important aspects and run a more effective meeting with fewer distractions. This may sound obvious, but many managers tend to overload the meeting rooms so that everyone is aware of what is being said and this can be counterproductive.

2. Set an agenda with assigned pre-work

Creating and sharing an agenda is not enough. Even if you ask everyone to read through the agenda and get prepared for it, you will find that most people don’t have time for that. And they will attend the meeting without knowing the details, which is the perfect recipe for an unsuccessful meeting.

So how can you develop a more effective meeting agenda? Make sure you include pre-work. Some ideas to assign pre-work and make sure all attendees get prepared for the meeting are asking each of them to cover a specific section on the agenda, asking them all to include one more topic to cover during the meeting, or asking them to bring solutions and examples to be discussed during the meeting.

3. Create realistic schedules

If you want to run effective meetings, it is necessary for them to start and finish on schedule. A well-designed meeting agenda should also anticipate the estimated time to spend on each point. Make sure you don’t get stuck for too long on your first topic and that you move through each point steadily, so you ensure you’re able to cover everything you’d planned. Your team member’s time is extremely valuable, so you don’t want them to waste it. A good tip, to help you run on time is to set alarms, as you will get a better idea of how much time has passed.

4. Open by getting their attention

How you start and finish the meeting will be critical for its success. A good idea is to start with a sentence that makes crystal clear what the objective of the meeting is. An example is “By the end of this meeting we will need to decide….” And once the objective is on the table, you may want to ask a provocative question to get everyone’s brains working. It is important to activate all participants’ creativity and ask them individually to answer certain questions.

5. Get everyone involved

The last thing you want is a meeting where you are the only one talking, and other team members don’t say anything at all. So, make sure everyone knows the role they are playing from the beginning. As the meeting leader, you should encourage everyone to take part and contribute. If you have planned the meeting well, you will have invited coworkers with different strengths and talents. Getting the right mix of people will create a participative and inclusive environment.

6. Set up future actions

If you want your meeting to be successful, nobody should leave the meeting room without knowing what they need to do next. A good way to conclude the meeting is by designating a responsible person for each task that needs to be followed up. And give clear instructions to every attendee on how they should support individuals in completing their jobs. Don’t forget to set a clear deadline for all the follow-up actions.

7. Follow-up email

The work doesn’t finish at the end of the meeting. Sending a follow-up email to all participants is more important than it may seem. In this email, you don’t need to repeat everything that was covered during the meeting, but instead, it is a great opportunity to highlight the future actions and everyone’s responsibilities. You can also create a section in your email to mention all those ‘parked items’ that arose during the meeting but were off-topic. Determine their importance and decide if a separate meeting is necessary to cover them in more detail.

8. Determine control metrics

As the meeting leader, you will also need to set up qualitative and quantitative metrics, to measure whether the meeting has been successful. You may want to write down what the meeting objective is and what you want to get from the actual meeting and from the follow-up actions. Share this information with all the attendees so everyone will be aware if they have played their role correctly or if extra work is needed.

Running effective meetings where all attendees feel involved and things get done will boost your team’s motivation. Follow these eight steps and you will see how the meetings you organise become far more productive.

If you would like additional help, to run more effective meetings, don’t forget to look at our Business Skills and Productivity Learning Library. You will find around lots of assets on leading effective meetings as well as materials on developing as a leader, listening, oral communication and much more.

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