How to Lead More Effective Meetings
Meetings can be time-consuming and even boring — and many people consider them a waste of time. Yet sometimes you need to call your team together to review where you are, set new goals, or brainstorm new solutions. That’s why, in order to become a great leader, you need to learn how to lead effective meetings. The following pointers can help:
- Only schedule meetings when absolutely necessary. Your employees know what their tasks are, so unless you have something new to communicate, there’s no need to have a meeting every Monday morning. In addition, ask yourself if what you want to discuss can be handled through a group email. If not, it’s time to schedule a meeting.
- Have a clear objective and set a tight agenda. Know what you want the outcome of the meeting to be. Do you want to brainstorm ideas for a new account, or do you want to talk about the upcoming move to new premises? Whatever it is, be clear on your objective, and create an agenda that includes every item you want to discuss.
- Send out the agenda ahead of time via email. This will allow people to prepare any questions they might have or input they might want to contribute.
- Ask people to turn off their devices. Don’t allow message alerts, phone calls or distracted employees to interfere with your meeting. Of course, if someone has a pressing matter they might need to attend to, accommodate them, but in general, it’s not too much to ask your team to turn off their phones for 30 minutes.
- Open with something that gets the attendees attention. In the article “14 Tips for Leading a More Effective Meeting,” Forbes advises opening with a statistic, story, or quote that relates to your meeting’s purpose. This will speak to your listeners’ creativity and make them more engaged.
- Invite participation from everyone. There might be one or two employees who find it challenging to speak in the group, so pay special attention to non-verbal cues that indicate someone has something to say. For example, a shy employee might suddenly start writing down notes or shaking his or her head instead of speaking up.
- State the action items. At the end of the meeting, state the action items you’ve decided on, and assign them to specific team members.
- Follow up afterwards. After the meeting, send out a brief email summary of what was discussed. It’s best to do this in bullet list format so employees can easily scan it.
Knowing how to conduct an effective meeting is a skill that will benefit you and your team in the short term, as it serves to quickly get everyone on one page around a common goal. In addition, it can play to your advantage in the long run, since leading meetings is a soft skill you can use throughout your management career.