As a manager, meetings are likely a regular part of your workday. Meetings can be a great way to collaborate with colleagues, share ideas, and make important decisions. However, meetings can also be a significant drain on productivity if they are not managed effectively. In this blog post, we'll cover tips for effective meetings, both in-person and online.

Section 1: Effective Meetings in General

  1. Set an agenda: A well-planned agenda ensures that all participants are prepared and that the meeting stays on track. It is essential to identify key topics, assign time for discussion, and distribute the agenda before the meeting.

  2. Invite the right people: Ensure that only the people who need to attend are present. Having too many people in a meeting can lead to wasted time and lack of focus.

  3. Start and end on time: Begin and end the meeting on time to respect the schedules of all participants. Late start times can make attendees feel undervalued and set the tone for a disorganized meeting.

  4. Encourage participation: Encourage everyone to contribute, and provide opportunities for all participants to share their thoughts and ideas. A collaborative environment can lead to creative solutions and increased buy-in.

  5. Take notes: Taking notes during the meeting can ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a clear understanding of the outcomes. Also, this is an opportunity to train somebody on your team, having them focused on taking notes in the meeting is a great teaching mechanism and guarantees they are aware of what is being discussed.

Section 2: Effective Online Meetings with Remote Teams

  1. Use video: Visual cues can improve communication and engagement in remote meetings. Ensure all participants have access to the necessary technology and that the video conferencing software is reliable. I know many people are not comfortable with cameras but, watching a person speak, seeing their subtle reactions to your comments are tools that can help dictate things like the meeting rhythm, whether or not you should rephrase something for better understanding or if you should ask for some inputs.

  2. Minimize distractions: Limit background noise and other distractions. Encourage participants to mute their microphones when not speaking and, specially, discourage multitasking. Besides being common courtesy to pay attention and focus, it avoids the common "Sorry, I was looking at my email, can you repeat the question?"

  3. Use visual aids: Utilize screen sharing and other visual aids to enhance communication and clarify complex ideas. Diagrams and digital whiteboards are a great way to get participant's attention and explain ideas in a visual way. Remember the old asying, an "image is worth 1000 words".

  4. Breaks: Online meetings can be exhausting, so ensure to schedule breaks to allow attendees to recharge and refocus. It sounds counter-productive, but, when meetings extend, take small breaks; 5 - 10 minutes for participans to stretch their legs, grab a water, read an e-mail. Just remember to get everybody back in focus by reminding them where you stopped. Also, the best place to take a break is when you finish an item in your agenda. Finalize the item, explain what will be discussed next and suggest a 10min break.

  5. Follow-Up: Ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the outcomes and next steps. Follow-up with attendees after the meeting to clarify any remaining questions or concerns.

Tips and Tricks for Effective Meetings

  1. Respect time: Stick to the agenda and schedule to respect everyone's time.

  2. Be prepared: Come prepared to discuss the agenda topics and share your ideas.

  3. Encourage participation: Engage attendees by inviting input, suggestions, and feedback.

  4. Follow-up: Follow up with attendees after the meeting to ensure everyone is clear on the outcomes and next steps.

  5. Continuous improvement: Regularly evaluate meetings to identify areas for improvement and adjust the approach accordingly.

  6. Make sure the meeting is necessary: Last but not least, make sure the meeting is strictly necessary. There are few things more frustrating than spending 45 minutes in a meeting with five other people, only to come out with the feeling of "Joe could have said all that in a 5 line e-mail.

Effective meetings can enhance productivity and build a strong team culture. By following these tips and tricks, managers can create meetings that are collaborative, efficient, and engaging.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash