Ηow to run a successful meeting
The tips that will make you the meeting’s master.
Meetings come in many shapes and sizes and we could spent an entire article just listing each one of them. Nonetheless, the most common ones are: alignment meeting, brainstorming meeting, pre-production meeting (PPM), kick-off meeting etc.
Depending on the kind of the meeting there are different “rules” to be followed in order to avoid wasting time and ensuring the best results.
However, there are some specific best practices for all types of meetings.
1) Why a meeting?
There is a place and time for anything and you ought to recognize when it’s time to call a meeting. For example, ask yourself before booking a conference room if the matter can be resolved in due time with a simple email or a quick phone call. If not, then go ahead and send that invitation. Also, important, lengthy or complicated conversations is strongly advised to take place face to face. It will help all parties to be aligned and avoid misunderstandings. Such instances are brainstorming for new ideas, alignment of big teams, Q&A Sessions etc.
2) Create an agenda
Planning a meeting without an agenda is like going to war without ammunition. It just won’t do, so be prepared and plan every single detail. What’s the matter to be discussed? What is the issue that needs to be resolved? What is the desired outcome? How long are you going to discuss each point? Ιf the meeting is about something that requires specific knowledge let everyone know what they should prepare beforehand. They will thank you for this and they will have arranged their prior schedule accordingly.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon, has a great rule for meetings’ participants: Never have a meeting where two couldn’t feed the entire group. Invite only those that have to be there, either to offer their input or need to be aligned. Moreover, don’t forget to make clear the roles of each person. During a presentation, not everyone has to talk while on a brainstorming session, each opinion matters.
4) Be punctual
You can’t delay, extend or postpone a meeting based on your last minute needs. Chances are changes won’t be welcome and might lead to meeting’s cancelation. Prior to sending out the invitation, make sure that all participants can actually attend and they don’t have any conflicting appointments. Don’t forget to follow up with those no-responders, too.
5) Avoid distractions
Having entered the meeting room, forget what’s happening outside and focus on the topic of discussion. Of course, introduction and humorous one liners are essential to break the ice. Finally, keep small talk and discussion about current events at a minimum since they can both derail the conversation.
Here’s a pro tip: Inform participants prior to the meeting if laptops and smartphones are allowed, since they can be a big distraction.
6) Own it
You run the meeting. You set the guidelines and you guide the conversation. It’s up to you to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that your team will gain the most out of this gathering. Don’t hesitate to cut someone if they’re side-tracking or encourage someone to speak up if you want their opinion to be heard. Besides that, you should aim at each point of your agenda with the skills of a professional archer. Don’t mention unnecessary things as they will confuse the team. Don’t let certain points of the discussion be stretched inexplicably as they will tire the team. Be laser-focused; you don’t have time to waste.
7) What’s next?
Never leave the room without knowing what the next steps are. When everyone gets back to their offices they should know what they have to do, the timeline they have and a clear sense of what was the purpose of the meeting. To ensure full alignment across participants, email the minutes of the meeting and highlight conclusions and actions. Everyone will be on the same page and you will avoid arguments of “who said this, who said that, etc”.
Meetings are a very useful tool that can truly transform the way your team works and your efficiency as a whole. And while they can be a pain to hold together, one thing they should never be is unnecessary.
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