It’s no secret that some organizations fall into the trap of too many meetings. We get it – it’s pretty easy to send a calendar invite without thinking through the meeting’s purpose first. And hybrid work or remote working styles have only made it easier to jump from one Zoom call to another. But thinking and planning before you act can help you run an effective meeting and use your team’s time wisely.
According to Forbes, around 55 million meetings happen daily, and about half of them don’t achieve anything substantial. So how can you start running effective meetings? Here, you’ll learn the 10 key steps to running effective meetings so you can make the most out of your team’s time.
10 tips on running effective meetings
Below are 10 tips for running effective meetings in the workplace. Follow these steps, and you’ll be on the fast track to more productive meetings.
- Set a clear objective
- Create a meeting agenda the day before
- Invite everyone to collaborate on the agenda
- Add talking points
- Assign a note-taker
- Take your own private notes during the meeting
- Add action items in real time
- Customize your meeting
- Conclude with a plan of attack
- Give your meeting feedback
1Set a clear objective
To start, define the meeting’s purpose and then set clear meeting objectives. The purpose is the “why,” and the objectives are what you hope to do at the meeting. For example, your purpose could be planning, problem-solving, brainstorming, or boosting morale. Your objectives could be coming up with innovative ideas for a new project or preparing for a holiday party. Typically, the more achievable your goal, the more focused your meeting will be.
Run Effective Meetings
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2Create a meeting agenda the day before
After you know why you’re meeting and what you hope to pull off, it’s time to begin writing an agenda – one that’s subject to change. Your meeting agenda is your trusted guide to any meeting and a great way to stay focused on your objective. It’s your reliable co-pilot that keeps everyone on the right path. It’s an outline of talking points and topics, and it leaves space for action items and next steps.
Marissa Goldberg, the founder of Remote Work Prep, has this to say about the importance of meeting agendas. “I say no to most meetings and encourage a lot of asynchronous communication,” she says. “If I do have a meeting: There is a clear agenda with expectations, only necessary people are invited, and decisions and action items are sent following the meeting.”
3Invite everyone to collaborate on the agenda
Before you send out your meeting agenda, give everyone plenty of time to review it and add to it. This is helpful because you might have missed an important talking point that someone else now has the chance to include. Plus, meetings are a collaborative process, so your agenda should be collaborative too. Then, once everyone has reviewed the agenda and added to it, they can show up prepared. That, of course, leads to more effective and productive meetings.
4Add talking points
A great agenda – the type that leads to an effective meeting – includes highly specific talking points. These talking points should be relevant to the objectives at hand, and you can assign different talking points to different people. This way, everyone knows in advance who’s speaking about, for example, budget pain points in your upcoming budget meeting. These talking points can lead to big group discussions – other people can, and should, chime in.
5Assign a note-taker
To be 100% sure you’re taking great meeting notes, assign a note-taker before the meeting starts. The note-taker can be the same person every time, or you can rotate the role. Either way, taking meeting notes is important because it’s a great way to informally document key decisions, challenges, or anything else of note.
6Take your own private notes during the meeting
While having an official note-taker is helpful, you can also take notes for your own reference. That’s because notetaking can help you stay focused and actually take everything in and remember it all. But don’t use notetaking as a smokescreen to have your laptop open so you can finish up that email lingering on your mind. Use the time to actually stay focused on the conversation and remain present with the group.
7Add action items in real time
You should assign meeting action items to your team members as they come up in your meeting. This way, everyone is clear on their expectations after the meeting ends. You’ll come up with action items based on any open ends that come from your talking points. With a meeting management tool like Fellow, you can type brackets in your notes to quickly add action items.
8Customize your meeting
Though most meeting agendas look roughly the same, no two types of meetings are exactly alike, so you might need to shake things up. With Fellow, you can customize agenda templates for all kinds of meetings. Plus, you can add comments, questions, and ideas in real-time during the meeting so nothing gets lost in translation. You can also customize your notes with images, bullets, embedded videos, and more with a simple forward-slash command.
9Conclude with a plan of attack
Even if you’ve assigned action items throughout the meeting, you should still leave time at the end to make the next steps crystal clear. That way, everyone will walk away knowing exactly what they have to do. You should give all your action items clear deadlines so that everyone stays on track and moving forward.
10Give your meeting feedback
You made it through a successful meeting, and everyone knows their next steps – congrats! Now, there’s one more step left. After you send out the agenda, with all your meeting notes and action items, you should give your team feedback. You should ask them to do the same – feedback is a two-way street.
You can send your agenda and ask for (and get) feedback after meetings with Fellow. It’s a great way to keep everything about your meetings well organized in one place. The feedback you get can be a great way to keep track of what’s working with your meetings and what could improve. This way, you’re always working toward progress.
Run effective meetings with Fellow
An effective meeting is a well-thought-out, productive use of your team’s time. It leads to actionable next steps and team members walking away feeling energized instead of drained. So make the most of your team’s valuable time using Fellow, where teams gather for organized, meaningful meetings. With Fellow, you and your team can collaborate on meeting agendas and look at them well in advance of your meetings.
What’s more, since everyone has access to the agenda, your team can add talking points before the meeting and take notes during it. Plus, they can add comments right to the notes instead of interrupting someone who’s speaking. After your meeting, you can send out the final agenda with action items to keep everyone on the same page. You can also ask for meeting feedback and share your own. With Fellow, it’s that easy to run effective meetings.