Why are meetings important?
Humans are social creatures who value interaction and engagement. Meetings provide an environment for people to communicate, cooperate, make decisions, collaborate, and build community.
Are meetings a good use of time?
Meetings have become a thorn in the side of many employees, with them taking up a significant portion of the workday and becoming too frequent, poorly timed and sometimes irrelevant. Many employees have reported feeling overwhelmed by the amount of ‘pointless’ meetings forced upon them by managers and colleagues – whether formal, informal, face to face or virtual – leading to a reduction of employee morale and the wellbeing of individuals, along with loss of productivity and overall collaboration.
However, if there are no meetings in the workplace, employees can feel detached from the organisation and their colleagues, with a lack of teamwork, trust and collaboration. When meetings are managed effectively, they can make employees feel included, trusted and valued and gives them the opportunity to contribute to the success of projects and the organisation, as a whole. This, in turn, boosts employee productivity, efficiency and enjoyment.
How to run effective meetings.
Love them or hate them – face to face or virtual – it’s important to make meetings as useful and constructive as possible. Utilise these top tips to get the most out of ‘getting together’:
- Set a clear agenda - Preparation is key to a good meeting – if you know what you want to get out of the meeting, you’re more likely to get good results. Prior to the meeting, send a clear agenda to all participants which includes a list of topics to be covered, the objectives of the meeting, who will address each topic and any background information required about the discussion points. An agenda will also help with the flow of the meeting, ensuring all objectives are addressed within the meeting.
- Don’t over-invite - Be ruthless with the invite list – ask yourself, do all these people need to attend the meeting? What will each person add to the discussion points? The purpose of meetings is to make decisions, not just to share information – that can be done in an email. If someone cannot contribute to the discussion, then they don’t need to attend.
- Clarify expectations - Make sure all participants know what the meeting needs to accomplish i.e. generation of ideas, gathering information, making decisions or a combination. Also, make it clear that promptness is essential – don’t wait for latecomers – you and your employees need to respect the start time so attendees’ time is not wasted.
- Encourage active participation - Prior to the meeting, assign people roles to ensure all participants are actively engaged. All successful meetings need to have a facilitator and even a dedicated note taker. If employees need to speak to certain topics, make sure they are briefed beforehand, so they come to the meeting full prepared. Also, make time for a Q&A session towards the end of a meeting to ensure all follow up questions are answered, and everyone is clear on their next steps.
- Utilise technology (for virtual meetings) - With remote working now a global trend, utilising technology can help to ensure all participants are actively engaged. Make it clear that activating video is mandatory, unless a very good reason is given, as it allows for better communication (verbal and non-verbal). You could also introduce polls to help make decisions and even encourage the chat function for those who are less inclined to speak publicly.
To make every meeting successful, just ask yourself these questions:
- Is the meeting necessary?
- What are the objectives?
- What’s the agenda?
- Who needs to be there, and will they actively participate?
Lead by example with well-structured meetings, and the rest of the business will follow. Start planning your next meeting today!
Want to learn more?
Read our Running Meetings Leadership Essentials for more ways in succeeding in how to lead and run effective meetings.