How to run effective team meetings

How do you make sure your meetings are as effective as they can be?

If you have a growing business you more than likely have several teams which have broken into their individual silos, which can create confusion.

For example, marketing may have no idea what sales are up to, and finance has no sense of the projects that their colleagues working on.

As a result, information that once flowed freely is being hoarded. You’ve noticed more of the blame game and complaining: “If only we’d known about X, we could have Y.”

So, you need to bring them together every so often with team meetings – but how can you run these meetings without it becoming a zoo?

Decide on the purpose of the meeting

This deceptively simple step is crucial because the purpose of the meeting will affect what goes on the agenda.

Of course, you should always think carefully about who to invite to a meeting. If it’s a team update, then it should be the whole team.

However, once your team is bigger than 10 or 12 people it will be difficult to involve everyone in the meeting.

With a larger organisation you might want to create separate meetings for different parts of the business.

However, once you create separate team meetings, be sure to set in place ways to keep communication open between all the parts of the business.

You could have ‘all of business’ meetings several times a year, leadership team meetings, and guest presentations from other teams.

Keep the agenda fresh

A standard agenda is a good foundation for your team meeting, but don’t let meetings become stale.

Consider complementing regular items with occasional features such as question time, training or industry briefings.

When you’re creating the agenda, include items that are important for your team.

This is especially important if there are topics they are concerned about or interested in. Be bold and address team concerns rather than bury them.

This might feel uncomfortable, but after the first few meetings you’ll realise this helps you know what people are thinking.

It encourages people to get involved.

You might have to nudge people for ideas at first, but when they see you include their suggested topics, they will come up with ideas of their own.

It’s a good idea to circulate the agenda before the meeting. This gives people a chance to think ahead and come up with questions.

Another way to keep the agenda fresh is to do a quick review at the end of the meeting.

Involve everyone

One sure way to turn people off meeting is for a small group to dominate the proceedings.

To avoid this, try to involve everyone in the meeting.

For instance, ask everybody to share a quick update or piece of news.

One of the best ways to involve others is to have them run parts of the meeting.

Another way to enliven your meetings is to ask a team member to run a training session, or report on a conference or event they have attended.

You can give them some questions to address:

  • What was the event you attended?
  • Why did you go?
  • What did you find especially interesting or valuable?
  • What did you discover that can help you in your work? How about things we can all learn from?

Celebrate

Team meetings are a great place to celebrate individual and team success.

So, whether it’s a new client, employee of the month, or an exam passed, take a moment to share good news and acknowledge your team.

Set a schedule

Scheduling signals the importance of the meetings, and it’s ideal if you schedule the dates for the full year ahead.

Be sure the agenda is sent out well in advance, and people have a chance to contribute suggestions for content.

It’s important to start and finish your meetings at the agreed time as well.

This is a sign of respect for others and reinforces the importance of planning ahead. You might even use a timer to keep people on track!

Write down the action points

If there are action points which arise from the meeting, be sure to write them down in the meeting.

You can appoint someone as note-taker, and have them send out the action points after the meeting.

It can be helpful to include past action points as part of the agenda you distribute; this gives people a reminder of what was to be done.

Finally, it’s easy to spend so much time preparing for meetings that you never get around to them.

Which is why the best tip of all is to just get started, and work out with your team how to keep improving your meetings to keep pace with your business needs.