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 How to run effective meetings

    While meetings are important for collaboration from time to time, with the growth of remote or hybrid work, they are becoming overly important. It might be time for a shift in how you approach meetings if you want to improve your meeting culture and hold more effective meetings.

Ask yourself: Is this meeting actually a meeting?

    Ask yourself (or your team) if this meeting would be useful to them and, if so, who truly needs to be in attendance.

    There are a few culprits who appear as meeting-worthy, but the truth is that these encounters may often be cut short or avoided entirely.

Define a Clear Purpose for the Meeting

    Before calling for a meeting, you must first ask:

Why and what for?

    Whether it's resolving an employee conflict or discussing a company catastrophe, a meeting will only be productive if its aim and goals are clear. This also entails achieving a specific result, which is most likely related to the goal.

    Before sending out the invitations to the persons who will be involved, a clear purpose must be determined.

Invite Only the Necessary People

    Invite people who can provide valuable ideas and those who can make decisions to an effective meeting. Consider keeping a problem-solving or decision-making meeting for a smaller group, when having a bigger group attend a session is an asset in brainstorming or team-building sessions. Remember to keep the meeting's aim in mind when deciding who should attend. Make sure you don't invite anyone to the meeting who isn't absolutely necessary. Schedules are hectic, and we value every minute of our workday!

Craft and share an agenda

    Few things irritate me more than when someone issues a meeting invitation with no indication of what will happen at the meeting, leaving invitees in the dark as to why they've been invited. Don't be one of those people. Include your agenda in the invitation so that individuals may decide whether they really need to be there and, if not, decline the meeting or suggest someone else.

    An agenda ensures that everyone is on the same page and that the meeting can be prepared. Participants will understand why they are there and what they hope to accomplish. You can establish the context and agenda ahead of time, and ask participants to perform some pre-work to prepare for the session.

Keep the agenda simple

    When booking a virtual meeting, stick to a few simple agenda points. By doing so, it’s easier to book shorter meetings and give people time to breathe and reset before going into the next meeting. Instead of booking a full hour, try to book meetings for 45 minutes or less. When looking at your colleagues’ schedules, try to leave 10-15 minutes for a break between meetings.

Default to 10- or 20-minute meetings

    Stick to a few straightforward agenda items when scheduling a virtual meeting. It'll be easier to schedule shorter sessions this way, and attendees will have more time to breathe and regroup before the following meeting. Try to schedule meetings for 45 minutes or less rather than an hour. When looking at your colleagues' schedules, aim to leave 10-15 minutes between meetings for a break.

Start and stop on time.

Set a time for the start of the meeting and a time for the end of the meeting.

Another rule is to never wait for the latecomer. 2-3 min acceptable. It is unfair to punish the people who are on time by making them wait for the person who gets there late, if at all . Many businesses make it a policy to lock the meeting room from the inside at the exact time the meeting is to begin.


Assign a Moderator

Even though you are the one who organizes the meeting, this does not mean that you are also the moderator.

Consider whether you are the best person to moderate the meeting or whether someone else could do it better. This will most likely be determined by the subject. If you believe it will improve productivity, don't be afraid to appoint other qualified people as moderators.

Cover important items first.

Apply the 80/20 rule when creating the agenda. Organize the agenda so that the top 20% of topics are the first to be tackled. If you run out of time, you will have covered the items that account for 80% of the meeting's value before the time runs out.

Separate Eating Time From Meeting Time

Doing other things during a meeting, like eating, will detract from everyone's concentration. It's a good idea to set aside thirty minutes to an hour before the meeting time to eat. This will ensure that no one eats during the meeting, resulting in fewer distractions.

Make meetings more inclusive   

There are many ways to keep people engaged and involved.

    Work can (apparently miraculously) get accomplished when you offer a secure area for people to share their opinions—a place where people's ideas matter more than their titles.

    Encourage your team members to take notes on paper. Writing notes by hand, according to research, helps people learn more, remember things better later, and develop a deeper knowledge of the content than typing notes.

    Break people into groups and have them accomplish small tasks, or make decisions, together. Then have them share their findings with the larger group.

    Divide the meeting into portions, with each component or part of the agenda being led by a different person. Changing presenters makes people's attention spans fresh and encourages attendees to feel ownership over a topic or project.

    If certain people are dominating the conversation, make a point of asking others for their ideas.

    Watch body language  and make adjustments as necessary. Maybe you need a break, or you need to stop someone from speaking over others.

    Ensure that the meeting stays on topic.

    Notes  has more advice on how to do this efficiently.

    Note items that require further discussion.

Review the Decisions of the Meeting

    During the final five to ten minutes of the meeting, go through any decisions made and actions taken.  Before everyone leaves, the attendees must have a clear understanding of the meeting's goal. This guarantees that everyone's questions are answered and that their contributions are properly considered.

    It also allows anyone to express any final doubts or questions, as well as exchange material pertinent to the conclusions, which is essential for productive meetings.

    Before the meeting ends, the moderator should resolve any conflicts among participants, and they should come up with simple solutions to their difficulties. It is critical that everyone understands what was said during the discussion.

Leave meetings with clear next steps and owners

    The following are some excellent meeting methods that help participants leave your meeting with clarity and purpose:

    Notes and action items should be used to summarize the meeting. Make these notes available to all attendees of the meeting. Consider sharing your notes with those  who couldn’t attend. 

    When possible, assign action items or things to follow up on to specific people. It's also a good idea to set a deadline or a time for someone to check in on your progress. Make a list of all the tasks that come up during the meeting. Make a list of who is responsible for what and when.

Send a meeting recap or follow up email

    Sending a recap or follow-up email to all attendees to share information from the meeting is the final step in organizing a productive meeting. This will emphasize the meeting's importance and important issues of discussion. It will also help your team achieve achievements by reminding them of their obligations so that they can keep themselves and their coworkers accountable.

Get Feedback

    Don't forget to send out an anonymous feedback form periodically and then to see how effective the meeting was for the attendees. Inquire about the meeting's significance for them. How would they improve it? Was it a valuable use of their time?

Visualize your discussions

    So instead of describing your idea with words, try doing one of these:

  • Show a sketch of your idea
  • Show a physical example of what you mean: a screenshot, webpage, video, etc.
  • Role-play the situation

Consider using meeting tools

    Using a collaborative agenda will help your team members contribute to the conversation, send out any materials to the attendees of your meeting , meeting templates, the timer which allows each person to speak at the same time are very efficent way to make a meeting with tools like Range, Fellow, Hypercontext.

Learn how to deal with troublemakers

    As a facilitator, you must be ready to deal with a variety of scenarios that may arise during your meeting, including difficult people and troublemakers.

Sooner or later, you will have a person in your meeting, who’s being distracting, asks sabotaging questions (“Do I REALLY have to be here?” or “Do you have proof this works?”),  or simply doesn’t pay attention.

Belows will help you get the meeting back under control. 

Set expectations at the beginning of the workshop 

Use a Parking Lot

    A person may initiate a circular conversation that is heated and detailed but is unrelated to pushing the meeting or decision ahead. It's also difficult for people to stop talking when they believe the subject is important and should not be overlooked.

    Creating a Parking Lot - a real location where questions, ideas, and subjects can be "parked" until later - is an easy method to assist your attendees feel at ease while also keeping the meeting moving. Could you please write it in a post so we don't forget? Let's finish this step and return to it later to discuss it.

Give troublemakers tasks 

    If someone is breaking the workshop's flow on a regular basis, fight the impulse to simply ignore them. Instead, assign them simple activities that will keep them engaged and make them feel included, such as taking down notes, drawing a map, or dialing in a distant colleague. This may appear patronizing, but it actually encourages individuals to feel more involved in a workshop and makes them into allies rather than adversaries.

Ask Probing Questions

    There will times with difficult questions to which you have no solution. If you don't know how to handle them, they can throw you off your game and disrupt the meeting's flow. What is the solution?

Ask Inquisitive Questions. It's like a magic trick! They allow you to interact with the question so you’re confronted with a question that you don’t know the answer to or that is clearly aimed at sabotaging the meeting, try using one of these cues: "That’s a really interesting question! Can you tell me what’s behind you asking that?", "Are you thinking of a specific situation?", "What do you mean exactly? Can you tell me more?"

    Probing Questions allow you to validate the asker, supply any further information you may require, and allows you some time to think. Furthermore, the troublemaker may end up answering their own question.

The Nuclear Option 

    If none of the preceding tactics have worked, approach the person privately and ask how they're doing and how you can make the session more pleasant for them. Take notes while they're speaking to show that you're paying attention and that you value their opinions! Don't be snide or passive-aggressive; instead, try to comprehend their motivations. 

     If that doesn't work, go back to the troublemaker and inform them they're being disruptive and negatively impacting others in the workshop. If it doesn't work, go with the last resort and ask them to leave the meeting.

Reduce the number of meetings at your company 

    According to Professor Steven Rogelberg's research, half of all meetings are viewed as a waste of time. As Rogelberg points out, a 50% return is concerning when there are 55 million meetings every day.

    Consider lowering the amount of meetings at your organization as a solution. Reduced conference calls are becoming more popular. We need to develop new methods of working, such as not spending all of our working hours in meetings and doing the "real work" on weekends and evenings.

    Pay attention to how well each meeting goes. This allows you to understand what types of meetings can be cut or moved asynchronously.

If the meeting isn’t effective, change it!

    However, it turns out that you aren't the only one who can determine whether or not a meeting was helpful.

Discuss the event with your fellow attendees, and ask them questions like these to get feedback:

  • Did this meeting result in something of value to the business?

  • Did we include the right people? If not, who should/shouldn’t be included in the future?

  • Were the meeting’s purpose and agenda clear?

  • Was it easy for you to contribute to the discussion?

  • For recurring meetings: are we holding this meeting on the right cadence? If not, how should we adjust?


    By meeting only when needed, crafting a solid agenda, priming people to listen deeply, being inclusive, and leaving with clear next steps, you can host effective meetings that leave everyone feeling inspired rather than frustrated.


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