For most leaders, meetings are a pretty regular occurrence. And while it’s important to get your team together to discuss strategies, goals, and challenges, not all meetings are equally effective. Many professionals tend to agree that a significant percentage of the meetings they attend are a waste of time. So, how can leaders avoid meetings that fall into that category? How can they ensure that their meetings are valuable and maximize the time they have with their team members? Let’s dive into a few important strategies that can help:
Define Your Purpose
Why are you having the meeting in the first place? Some leaders keep regular team meetings on the calendar. This is fine to act as a placeholder, but it’s essential to identify the purpose of each meeting ahead of time. When you meet with your team without a specific focus, the discussion can quickly lose its focus. To avoid meetings that drag on and leave people without a clear idea of what the end goal is, ensure you set a clear and specific purpose before you begin. You may find there are too many things for one meeting, or perhaps you find that an in-person meeting isn’t necessary this week.
Assess the Parameters
The two most important parameters to consider for any meeting are the timeframe and the attendees. Assess how long you’ll actually need for the meeting, and allow for a small amount of wiggle room. It’s frustrating when a meeting blocks off an hour in people’s calendars and only lasts for thirty minutes. And it’s also frustrating when a meeting goes well over the scheduled time. Be intentional and clear. Consider what you need to accomplish, set the time frame, and hold yourself to it. Not only does it help keep the meeting more on track, but it also shows that you truly value the time of each attendee. It’s also important to consider who needs to be at the meeting. If it’s a meeting of the entire team, that’s great. But if you only need to meet with a smaller group, be selective and invite the people who really need to be there. Again, this is about valuing the time of your employees.
Prepare in Advance
While you’re likely to prepare for the meeting yourself, the best leaders know they also need to give employees this same opportunity if they want them to be fully present. By creating and sharing an agenda in advance, you give employees a chance to think about what they’d like to add or any questions they may have in advance. This supports participation and can make your meetings significantly more engaging for everyone involved.
In addition to sending out an agenda in advance, leaders also need to actively encourage participation throughout the meeting. Wherever possible, avoid a monologue. Leaders who start the meeting with a lengthy introduction set the tone for the rest of the time. If you want your employees to participate, set up that dynamic from the start. Make asking questions a key part of leading the meeting. The more regularly you do this, the more comfortable and confident your team members will become with actively participating in each meeting. Doing so not only makes for a more engaging meeting, but it also shows how much you value what each team member has to say, and it encourages them to take ownership of their role.
To lead successful meetings, leaders need a strategy. These are just a few important areas to consider, but they’re certainly not the only things that go into a successful meeting. What are your thoughts on how leaders can create more effective meetings? Please share them with us.