14 Ways to Run More Effective Meetings

Unnecessary meetings waste time and money, and reduce office morale. Learn how to run more effective meetings.

Meetings are likely to be part of your schedule. While an essential aspect of collaboration, meetings often take up a significant chunk of time. If you are continually sitting in meetings that should have been emails, it’s time to start considering how to run more effective meetings. These ineffective meetings contribute to the estimated $37 billion wasted in the U.S. each year. 

The art of conducting meetings doesn’t usually come naturally. Every leader has their own style, and each team has its dynamic. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to meetings, there are core principles you can use to craft more effective meetings. Keep reading to learn how you can lead more productive meetings. 

How can you improve team meetings?

The number one way to improve team meetings is to plan. Spending just a little time planning on the front end for your meetings could result in hours of saved time later. There is more than one way to plan, though, so it’s essential to learn how to prepare. Follow these 14 tips to learn how to prepare for the best meetings possible. 

1. Be transparent.

Let your team know that you want to improve your meetings. Ask them what they think might be working or not working and how they would like to see meetings change. Let them know what you plan on changing so they can offer feedback along the way. 

It is important to remember that throwing your team into a new meeting format without letting them know the plan could result in a failed meeting, even if the plan is perfect. 

2. Know the purpose.

Most of us have been guilty of joining a meeting without fully understanding the purpose. Whether you are leading the discussion, or just a member, be sure to take a few minutes before the meeting to review the purpose of the meeting.

If this is a recurring meeting, ensure you need to meet. It can be easy to show up to a planned meeting without considering if there is a purpose. There may not be enough to talk about at every meeting, so consider skipping one or cutting the time to avoid wasting any time. 

black and white mind map
Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash

3. Create a meeting agenda.

Once you know why you’re having a meeting, work on an outline. While you don’t need to plan every minute, having a general plan can help everything run more smoothly and ensure nothing is forgotten. 

4. Create a timeline.

Don’t just schedule hour-long meetings because it’s easier. Now that you’ve structured your meeting, it will be easier to plan how long the meeting should take. Some discussions might only need to be a quick 15-minute chat, while others will take a bit longer. Over-scheduling meetings often result in wasted time or meetings that go off-topic. 

5. Prep your team.

Just because you know the purpose of a meeting doesn’t mean your entire team does. Give a brief rundown of the purpose and contents of the meeting in the invitation. Keeping everyone informed ensures that participants can prepare any questions before the discussion. 

6. Don’t jump right in.

Spend the first few minutes of the meeting getting everyone engaged. Ask a quick icebreaker question to boost engagement and create a more positive atmosphere. Once everyone has spoken, it is easier to promote collaboration later in the meeting. 

7. Keep a record.

Effective meetings aren’t worth much when you can’t remember important details. Use video recording software to keep a record of your meetings. Having a record of your meetings means no more wasted time on written notes, and you’ll never miss something important again.  

8. Create a custom name.

Don’t just add “meeting” to your schedule. Come up with a custom name for your meetings. Custom names are more descriptive and can add a more positive spin to your meeting. 

9. Stay on your feet.

Staying engaged and attentive throughout an entire meeting isn’t always easy. Try having your team take the meeting while standing. Standing meetings boost engagement and productivity and lead to shorter meeting times. 

standing work meeting in an office
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

10. Keep it small.

Most of us have sat in a meeting wondering why we were required to be there. Don’t invite everyone on the team for no reason. Consider who the stakeholders are and who needs to be part of each meeting. Limiting the number of people will allow for a more effective meeting, but you also won’t be wasting the time of people who don’t need to be present. 

11. Offer a change of scenery.

You likely have a set location for your meetings. Try taking a break from the usual environment and taking your team to a new location to change pace. If your team is virtual, suggest a walking meeting. 

12. Cut multitasking 

Humans are notoriously bad at multitasking, and it actually harms your productivity. Before joining meetings, have your entire team set their devices to do not disturb and remove any distractions. While it might seem impossible to step away from Slack for a whole meeting, it will benefit everyone involved. 

13. Ask questions

Meetings are essential because they allow for collaboration, but they can quickly become one-sided without questions. Stop for questions throughout the meeting, or leave space at the end to clear up any confusion. 

14. Follow-up

Amid a busy schedule, it can be easy to forget some of the critical details of a meeting. After meetings, offering a brief follow-up message can help keep the main points top-of-mind for everyone involved.

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