Ineffective meetings are unfortunately an all-too-common occurrence within businesses, with many employees viewing them as an unproductive use of time, and not conducive to brainstorming new ideas and making decisions with others. Some teams are even expected to attend so many meetings to the point where it becomes difficult to get work done.

When done well, meetings can be an effective way to communicate important information, foster teamwork, and facilitate opportunities for each member to contribute. On the other hand, poorly run meetings can prevent employees from finishing tasks on a normal day, making it harder for teams to reach their goals.

Making team meetings more efficient

Recent reports reveal that businesses lose a significant amount of money each year to unnecessary meetings. With this in mind, it is important that managers adopt better-meeting behaviours to make team meetings more efficient for the workforce.

Prioritise teamwork, not reporting – Sometimes a lot of the information to be shared in a team meeting can be easily communicated through other, more convenient mediums such as email. Sending source materials such as statistics, reports, or other information to team members prior to the meeting saves time and allows for better preparation. The result? More time for discussing, strategizing, team-building, and collaborating as opposed to simply reporting information.

Assign meeting roles – There is often many tasks involved when holding an effective meeting such as taking notes, staying on agenda, and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Team meeting roles are a great way to delegate these responsibilities to different team members, allowing the meeting to run smoothly while also teaching each member how to lead. When team members have a specific responsibility, they are more involved. Additionally, switching up roles is a great way to force team members to think differently and take on new tasks.

Create a meeting agenda – Agendas are an important aspect of effective team meetings. It should outline what will be discussed, and what the overall objectives are. It should be distributed to each person before the meeting and include the meeting schedule, location, attendee list, purpose of the meeting, a clear agenda items, and objectives.

Ask each member for input – When creating a meeting agenda, seek input from meeting participants. Reaching out to team members not only shows respect and fosters collaboration, but it can tap into different ideas and topics that managers may not have already considered.

Allow everyone to speak – It is important to create a safe space where each team member feels heard and respected. Managers need to safeguard each team member’s chance to speak up by understanding that while some people are comfortable speaking up in public, some are not. Allocating a specific time in the meeting for each attendee or calling on them by name to participate provides a clear and unambiguous opportunity for each team member to share.

Ask questions that encourage discussion – Communication and understanding between team members is essential in an effective team, especially between a manager and a direct report. Encourage team members to discuss any accomplishments, challenges, any areas of improvement, feelings, and questions for the greater team.

Highlight meeting agenda progress in real-time – Provide real-time updates in relation to items in the agenda as the meeting progresses. When a topic is finished, recap any conclusions or decisions made to the team, and clearly move onto the next agenda item. This will help team members to digest what was discussed and re-engage leading into the next topic.

Improve each week – After each meeting, request feedback from team members. This will assist in consistently improving the effectiveness of team meetings moving forward. Letting employees know that their opinions are valued is important, just as is allowing a safe space for team members to highlight any areas for improvement.

Follow up on action items – If no one actions the plans made during a team meeting, then it was a waste of time. Following up with team members to check on the status of tasks in the days after helps to keep people on track. Better yet, assign employees action items with due dates to ensure meetings actually produce tangible results.

Send out meeting minutes – Ensure all the important information discussed in the meeting is captured in the meeting minutes. Ensure it summarises the key takeaways, including any actions, changes, or decisions made, and distribute it to the team in a timely manner.

By adopting these simple tips when holding team meetings, employers can drastically reduce the number of ineffective meetings while increasing productivity. Make meetings a valuable tool for collaboration rather than a drain on employee time and energy.

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