Collaborative work is vital for businesses of all kinds. Sitting down with your team to share ideas and work on projects is the best way to deliver products your customers love. Short online business courses can be a great way to learn how to run an effective meeting and ensure your team gets value from collaborative work.
To help you avoid the pitfalls of unproductive meetings, we’ve put together our top 6 tips on the best ways to run effective meetings.
1. Define your meeting objectives
Setting an objective for a meeting is the best thing you can do to ensure the discussion remains on track. If you want your session to produce actionable and valuable results, you need a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
It’s a good idea to keep your meeting objective focused on solving one or two problems rather than setting a broad goal that can’t be achieved in the allotted time. For instance, your meeting objective might sound something like:
- Discussing ways to improve an internal business process
- Brainstorming session on how to reduce customer cart abandonment
- Quarterly review meetings to go over key numbers and look for areas of improvement
- Presenting the results of your latest market research
2. Create an agenda
A meeting objective can point you in the right direction, but a full agenda ensures things are moving smoothly. After all, a meeting isn’t worth much if you allocate an hour and then spend most of it on the first topic.
Break down your meeting into small chunks of time and create a plan that will help meeting leaders progress the conversation. Set out individual time for each piece of the meeting, such as your introduction, reviewing previous meetings, discussing ideas, hearing reports and setting outcomes.
Don’t forget to share the agenda with your invitees to set their expectations and give them time to prepare their ideas.
3. Invite the right people
Not everyone on your team needs to be involved in every meeting. Too many cooks can spoil the broth, and too many meeting invitees can create a distracted and unproductive environment. Focus on inviting the people who need to be there. That includes task owners, client liaisons and team leaders. Once they’re invited, consider bringing in other team members and specialists with valuable experience or who need to contribute their ideas to the discussions.
If the meeting outcomes will also affect the rest of the team then consider sending the meeting outcomes as an email rather than inviting the whole office.
4. Encourage collaboration and creativity
Meetings are designed to create a collaborative environment for your team. Meeting leaders need to create an environment that encourages creativity and discussion to ensure everyone has the freedom to share their ideas. Make your intentions clear at the start of the meeting, and let your team know they are welcome to discuss their ideas.
During the meeting, be mindful that each person is getting a chance to share their ideas. Try to prevent attendees from talking over each other or dismissing others’ ideas out of hand.
5. Focus on the task
Keeping your meeting focused can be a challenge. Once you’re all together, it can be hard to resist talking or allowing discussions to get away from you. This is where your agenda comes in handy. Keep an eye on the clock, and don’t be afraid to nudge the meeting along if you’re spending too much time on a single point. Try to avoid letting your team become distracted or sidetracked with discussions that don’t relate to the meeting topic.
If you have time, it’s often helpful to prepare visual cues to keep the meeting on track. Using slideshows or other imagery improves engagement and gives you an easy way to break the meeting into segments.
6. Set clear meeting outcomes
One of the most important things covered in short online courses is the need for work to produce valuable outcomes. The same applies when it comes to the question of how to run an effective meeting. For a meeting to be successful, you must work towards setting specific, measurable and time-bound goals. Any meeting you conduct should produce three key things:
- Actionable outcomes: What work will be done as a result of the meeting?
- Task owners: Who is completing each piece of work?
- Timelines: When is the work due, and how will success be measured?
You’ll also need to ensure meeting attendees know these outcomes. During the meeting, you can make a point of noting specific actions that need to be taken.
After the meeting, you can send a follow-up email that outlines the meeting’s results and provides clear directions on what to do next.
Providing outcomes and instructions ensures tasks will be taken care of and that your meeting will be considered a success!
To brush up on your meeting skills, you can undertake MiTraining's micro credentials course online, Effective Meetings.