Recently on a team call, we discussed how tricky it is to balance the ever-growing amount of meetings with our regular job responsibilities. For some professionals, meetings are a great way to realign and take a break from everyday activities. Other people, however, view meetings as an unwelcome interruption.
When it comes to remote work teams, meetings are an essential activity for getting aligned on expectations and working efficiently together. They are also a great tool to connect with your colleagues. However, to avoid wasting time, it’s important to make meeting more effective.
As one of the project managers at WebDevStudios, I have some useful tips.
5 Tips to Make Your Meetings More Effective
1. Reassess the purpose.
Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this meeting?” Routine meetings are often scheduled at a point in the project when they are necessary.
While these meetings were effective at one point in time, it’s important to reassess these calls to determine if they are still relevant. If you find yourself saying, “This could have been an email,” after a recurring call, it’s likely time to cancel it.
2. Include the right people in your meetings.
Ask yourself, “Who needs to be on this call?” Depending on the purpose of your call, make sure you know who from your team actually needs to be included.
Will you need a specific team member’s input or expertise on an issue? Or, do you need to brainstorm a blocker with the full team?
Do you need some additional support on a client call, and who is best to provide that? To ensure you aren’t wasting your team’s time or resources, make sure to only include those who need to be in attendance.
3. Prepare an agenda.
To really make your meetings more effective, set clear expectations for the call up front using an agenda. It should be a brief outline of what needs to be discussed.
Feel free to send the meeting agenda out to all participants prior to the call to set the meeting up for success. For example, if the point of your call is to discuss a specific feature or request, use your agenda to outline the key points that need to be clarified or addressed.
4. Control the meeting, but not the conversation.
If the people in your meeting are the essential parties needed to participate in the discussion, they will all have an important role to play for your call. While you are in charge of leading the meeting, make sure that you are facilitating in a way that everyone is able to chime in.
Call facilitators should start a meeting by defining the agenda and setting the tone for what should be accomplished. After that, it’s time to back off and let the discussion begin.
Toward the end of the call, it’s time for the facilitator to jump back in to guide the call conclusion and define next steps. This leads me to my next point.
5. End on time and define the action items.
If you are facilitating a call, you should always aim to end on time. Hopefully, you have guided your team to stay on track throughout the call to support this.
However, in the event that you need to end a meeting, it is okay to let all participants know that it is time to wrap up. An easy way to communicate this is simply by stating, “I have a hard stop at [X] time.”
If you find yourself needing to end a call due to time limitations, wrap it up with a summary of the action items that need to be completed following the meeting. Identify who is responsible for completing them. Once next steps have been communicated and agreed upon, everyone should be aligned on what is happening next.
Ultimately, you’ll need to customize your approach to making meetings more effective in a way that fits your company. However, if you are overwhelmed with meetings, I hope these tips help.
1 thought on “5 Tips to Make Your Meetings More Effective”
I would also highlight at the beginning of the meeting – especially if the call features a lot of participants – the use of the “hand” symbol like we have in MS Teams whenever someone has something important to contribute or ask during the call. This greatly helps managing the call and avoiding chaos when a few people switch their mics off. As the manager of the call, you can queue the people that have their hands up and are willing to speak. On Fridays we always have calls with at least 50 people, and this feature helps considerably.