How to make your next team meeting count
Most team members in any organisation have a love/hate relationship with team meetings. While they can be productive and foster team-building activities, ineffective meetings waste time and create frustration in the work environment.
August 29, 2018

Most team members in any organisation have a love/hate relationship with team meetings. While they can be productive and foster team-building activities, ineffective meetings waste time and create frustration in the work environment.

Make sure your teams run thoughtful, effective meetings to maximise your meeting time and make sure things get done on time, whether they are video conferencing or meeting in-person. Read on to learn about the best practices for leading productive meetings.

Set Ground Rules for Every Meeting

The foundation of every good meeting is having set ground rules for every meeting participant. Clear rules and expectations help support a respectful meeting environment from the start and encourage collaborative teamwork. Good examples of ground rules include:

  • Limit distractions. Try having a 'no cell phone or laptops' rule during meetings. Not only will you save time, but participants will pay attention more and actively contribute towards the meeting goals when they aren't constantly checking their phone or answering text messages and emails.
  • Stay focused. New ideas are great, but if the group goes off on a tangent, table it for later. Don't be dismissive, but make a note to discuss ideas and topics that aren't on the agenda at a later time.  
  • Don't play the blame game. Nearly every meeting involves fixing issues and when in a group setting, and it's easy for some to pass blame. Make sure the common goal is clear and avoid pointing fingers. Focus on a solution.
  • A great meeting is one where everyone participates. If you've been mostly silent during the meeting, speak up and offer your unique contributions. On the other hand, don't dominate the conversation. If you notice you've been talking more than others, take a step back so everyone feels comfortable to participate.
  • Give shout-outs! Team meetings are a great place to recognise high performers. It makes their hard work feel appreciated and respected.

Designate a Clear Team Leader

While flat organisations are popular in smaller companies and startups, team meetings must have a designated leader to set goals for the meeting and make it productive. If there isn't a clear leader responsible for decision-making, the meeting will lack order and accomplish little. Successful team meeting leaders should handle:

  • Scheduling the team meeting and sending out invitations
  • Developing and delivering the meeting agenda ahead of time
  • Assigning meeting tasks to participants
  • Setting goals and distributing action items at the end of the meeting
  • Creating and sending follow-up items after the meeting

Develop and Stick to a Clear Meeting Agenda

Every business leader knows that a successful meeting starts with a clear agenda, but so many meetings begin without one. Without a clear purpose, team members aren't able to adequately prepare and the meeting will often get off topic.

The meeting leader should establish set goals for the meeting, send a thorough agenda, and assign roles to participants ahead of time to make the most of the group’s time together.  

Another way to encourage new ideas and collaboration is to allow team members to propose meeting agenda items beforehand. This gives different team members the chance to talk about ideas or issues in a group setting without interfering with the predetermined agenda.

When you wrap up a meeting, dedicate a few minutes for follow-up questions. Assign action items and record new ideas brought up during the meeting to review in the next scheduled meeting.

Limit Meeting Time and Meeting Participants

One the team leader sets a meeting date and time, they should stick to it. Every professional knows how it feels to have a meeting moved or cancelled at the last minute. Once you set a meeting, do everything you can to stick to the time and date to show your team members you respect other people's time as much as you value your own.

Start and end each meeting on time. Don't show up five minutes late, especially if you are the person who scheduled the meeting. If there are still action items and tasks to be discussed once your time is up, you should still end on time. Record the items left over and schedule another meeting, or communicate about them with team members one-on-one if appropriate.

Similar to creating and adhering to a meeting time limit, limit the participation of the group. The entire team doesn't have to be in on every meeting. Only invite the team members necessary. If there are meeting participants that rarely speak up during a meeting, reassess if they need to be there. Their time may be better spent accomplishing important tasks that are relevant to their role.

Reduce Meeting Frequency With Software Tools

It's common that teams and departments get into a habit of having a weekly meeting for every issue or project, even though it might not be necessary. The smartest organisations use specific tools to help them reduce the number of meetings they have while communicating frequently.

Companies don't need to spend all day in meetings to produce collaborative, engaged teams. Instead of having regularly scheduled meetings just because they are recurring on the calendar, practice frequent, robust communication and collaboration in an online space. Today's technology has created a multitude of collaborative task and performance management tools that help companies drastically reduce the amount of time spent in meetings, while making the meetings they do have count.

Samewave is social performance management software that helps organisations effectively collaborate and communicate about tasks, targets and goals in one dedicated place. Our software greatly decreases the need for traditional, long team meetings. Samewave can even track meeting minutes and create customised, automated reports!

Our simple-to-use technology can help your teams work smarter with automatic agendas and to-do lists, chat streams and real-time updates in one transparent software tool, increasing accountability to tasks and goals. Samewave's reporting features foster timely action and make required team meetings more valuable.

Are you interested in how Samewave can help your teams reduce meeting time, improve productivity and become more effective? Samewave is free, so sign up today and introduce it to your team to get the most out of every meeting.

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