Let’s face it; team meetings aren’t exactly thrilling. If you’ve experienced the average team meeting, then you’ll know they always run over the allotted time, and most team members can’t wait to get out of the room.
From the restless wanderers who can’t keep their hands and feet still to the daydreamers that are mentally planning what to have for their dinner later, most team meetings are unsuccessful because they fail to evoke any interest in the participants.
The fact is, holding effective team meetings involves planning, preparation and some other valuable tactics that we’ll reveal in this post.
If you’re sick of wondering which song your team members are mentally humming in their head during the weekly meeting, then read on because we’ve got you covered.
Here are our top tips for running effective team meetings:
Always Prepare an Agenda
A meeting agenda is so important because it sets out the purpose of the meeting and how long it should take. Going into a meeting blind is like going on a date without having your best friend waiting to do the ‘there’s been an emergency phone call’ – it can go on and on with little chance of escape!
Surprisingly, many people still decide to wing their meeting. But every successful team leader knows that a meeting agenda means people know what will happen at the meeting, and the topics of discussion won’t go off track.
The project manager or team leader usually take responsibility for the agenda, but the meeting owner (the individual that called for the meeting) should be involved in the team meeting preparation to make sure that the discussion stays on track.
It’s also a good idea to ensure other participants have the opportunity to add topics for group discussion.
Try to include the following information in your team meeting agenda:
- When will the meeting time start and end?
- How many team members will attend?
- What is the objective of the meeting?
- Topics of discussion (agenda items)
- Free Time
Free time is necessary because one person might want to discuss something that wasn’t on the agenda. You should always allocate some minutes for free discussion because it’s helpful if all the members can share their thoughts and ideas.
Once you have a schedule in place, you should make sure you send the team meeting agenda ahead of time. That way, the entire team attending will have the opportunity to prepare anything they want to discuss.
It’s All About The Attitude
You get what you give in life, and that’s certainly true when it comes to your attitude. If you’re a pessimistic person, that always expects the worst, then bad things often happen. It’s precisely the same with enthusiasm.
When your team members see that you’re not enthusiastic about the meeting, it doesn’t help. Your main goal as a meeting leader is to encourage participation and team collaboration. Your meeting behaviour will impact other team members, so try to think about how you can spark interest in your attendees.
Approach the meeting with positivity but also display a sense of purpose. After all, you’re meeting to have a productive discussion and going into the room with a ‘can-do attitude will encourage the entire team to share ideas and contribute to the meeting.
Here are some ways you can make each team member feel comfortable and welcome at your meeting:
Keep it Light
People have busy lives, and it’s essential to remember that your team meeting isn’t an opportunity for you to throw some weight around when they’re late. Try to show some understanding and humility when someone is late because they’ll appreciate your light-hearted approach.
Have a Sense of Humour
It would help if you had a sense of humour to make recurring meetings more enjoyable. Make sure you’re not afraid to share a joke and show that you can host a great meeting that people look forward to attending.
Don’t be Everyone’s ‘Mate’
If you’ve seen The Office, then you’ll know that Ricky Gervais’ cringe-worthy portrayal of a manager is not the way to impress your team. Having a sense of humour is great, but acting the fool is entirely different.
Making inappropriate jokes and picking on team members isn’t the way to make your meeting participants feel at ease. Most will dread the next meeting, so try to be a leader who understands balancing professionalism and a light-hearted approach.
Celebrate the Small Stuff
The small things can often make the most significant difference, and you should always make an effort to begin the meeting on a positive note by celebrating a company accomplishment. For example, maybe the team finished a project early or won a new client.
It doesn’t matter what the achievement is, but starting on a positive note will encourage your meeting participants. You can also note individual accomplishments, both personal and professional, to show each employee that you recognise them and care about their future success.
Do Something Unique
Most average meetings have a common purpose; discuss agenda items, find solutions or plan further discussion to aid in the decision-making process. But you can revamp your regular meetings and add something extra to offer your team a welcome change.
Here are a few things you can do that will make a big difference.
Meet Somewhere Else
Instead of heading straight to the meeting room, think about other places your team could get together. Coffee shops are a popular option, but there are many other fantastic locations to choose from.
Some restaurants offer lunch deals, and people might be more engaged if you discuss important issues. Perhaps the best option is an outdoor meeting – especially if it’s summer. Ask most people if they’d prefer to sit in a stuffy room or the park; they’d choose the park.
The point is, a change of scenery could be just what your team needs to improve its decision making, move towards team goals and have a good meeting.
Introduce New Cuisine
Street food is at an all-time high in terms of popularity, and if you operate within a city, you’ll have plenty of cuisines to choose between. So, why don’t you ditch the salads and soggy sandwiches in favour of something new and exciting at meetings?
Your team will appreciate trying something different, and each member could be responsible for choosing the food if you have weekly meetings.
Switch Up Your Seating
Some people might find that a small change such as mixing up the seating arrangements can breathe new life into future meetings. Whether it’s sitting in a circle or placing cushions on the floor, the change might lead to a more efficient meeting.
Team building is essential for a business to succeed, and your attendees should have an opportunity to talk to other members and feel comfortable with one another. Activities such as meditation encourage team bonding, just by members being in the same space.
You can also play a game as a meeting warm-up or incorporate free reading time into the meeting. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s what each member wants and try not to take up too much of your team’s time with activities.
Improve Your Processes
Processes keep every business in operation, and they’re vital for continuous improvement. Meetings can run quicker if elements such as productivity are addressed beforehand. The best way to do this is by using field management software to analyse how your team performs and where they’re failing.
Using software will give you vital insights into each individual’s performance. You can focus on using meetings to share ideas instead of wasting time with everyday issues like timekeeping and monitoring your inventory.
You should also have a dedicated person record meeting minutes and make sure that other team members receive them.
What About Remote Meetings?
The pandemic meant people have to leave the office and work from home. While the change in how we live impacted us, the public has gotten used to the changes and even embraced them.
Despite things going back to normal, many people will likely continue to work home because it’s more convenient.
So how can you, as a project manager or team leader, hold remote meetings that engage your team and retain their productivity?
Let’s take a look at our tips to run effective team meetings from a range of remote settings.
Set Expectations & Roles
Remote team meetings can be challenging to navigate, especially when everyone tries to talk over each other. Make a point of defining each person’s role during the meeting so there’s no ambiguity.
Familiarise Yourself With the Meeting Tool
The most popular remote meeting tools include Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Each has a range of functionalities, and the one you choose depends on personal preferences and the number of attendees it allows.
The last thing you want to do is ruin the entire meeting by not knowing what you’re doing, so make sure you get to know the platform you use and do a few test runs before your meeting.
Get Everyone to Turn the Cameras On
Productive meetings work well when the attendees can see each other and share ideas. It’s more complicated when you hold remote meetings because people can often feel a bit lost.
Both you and your team should always have your cameras on so the meeting feels more natural. It’s also good for promoting equality in the workplace.
Prepare & Send an Agenda
Your agenda should contain the same elements as in-person agendas, but you should make sure that your team has clear instructions on accessing the meeting platform.
Agree on a Structure
It’s vital that you agree on a structure, especially with remote meetings. Remember, while each person will have their camera on, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to see every meeting participant.
If you want to make it through each agenda item, it’s best to ask everyone to hold their comments until they’re asked to contribute. That way, you can avoid having a bad meeting and allow quieter participants to speak.
It’s always a good idea to agree on a format before you begin – e.g. brainstorming sessions or status update meetings. You should also ask one person to take meeting notes and make sure each participant receives a copy to complete their follow up tasks.
Create an Engaging Experience
A single meeting can feel like a chore, especially when it’s a monotonous experience that fails to engage your participants. It’s your job to engage them during the staff meeting and make sure each member contributes.
The biggest challenge for any leader or project manager is learning how to keep their meetings engaging. Nobody walks into a meeting thinking that it will be a fun-filled experience, but you can take the steps we mentioned above to make yours more fun and move through the agenda items simultaneously.
Consider each team member and offer alternatives such as changing location or avoiding having too many meetings by implementing field management software that provides general updates on productivity and inventory.
Whether you’re a large company or holding one-on-one meetings, we’re confident that after this post, you’ll be able to host a successful team meeting, where each participant remains engaged, alert and leaves the room thinking, ‘actually..that was quite fun.’ Good luck, and if you’d like more valuable tips hot from the press straight to your inbox, please find us on Facebook!