Have you ever sat through a meeting and felt like the team accomplished NOTHING? Frustrating, isn’t it? Because your people’s time is a valuable asset and one of your top expenses, it is extremely important to optimize the productivity of your meetings. If you effectively facilitate your team meetings, your team will not only accomplish more, but they will also respect you more as their leader.
Keep in mind the following simple steps to help make your meeting a positive, successful experience for all attendees:
Identify the main objectives for the meeting well in advance. I know how easy it is to overlook something that isn’t one of the FIRES of the day. Don’t put off meeting planning simply because it isn’t urgent at this minute.
Develop And Communicate An Agenda
Make sure to write an agenda. Prioritize the discussions/activities that will help your team achieve the meeting’s main objectives. Be sure to assign ample time for each discussion/activity. It is always frustrating when someone builds such a tight agenda that you are always running behind. Let your team know what you will cover at least three days prior to the event. Be specific about how you want them to prepare.
Stick To The Agenda
During the meeting, stay on topic and follow the agenda. I always like to use a flip chart in the front of the room for Parking Lot Items (those issues/ideas that arise and should be addressed but are not on the agenda). Following the meeting, you can establish a plan for covering the parking lot items with the team.
Get The Team Involved
Don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities for the meeting. Get people on your team to help facilitate discussions. Not only does delegation relieve you of doing it all, but it also gives individuals the opportunity to develop new skills and makes the meeting more interesting for the participants.
Facilitate, Do Not Dominate
Remember the purpose of team meetings is to leverage the knowledge and ideas of all of the team members. Make an effort to include everyone in each discussion or activity.
Keep an eye on the agenda and stay within its time guidelines. If a discussion requires more than the allotted time, make a conscious decision to move a less important item off the agenda or postpone the continuation of the discussion to another time and date. Be sure to end the meeting on time! How do you feel when a meeting runs over? People usually have commitments after a meeting, and it is important to respect them.
Document The Minutes
Assign someone on the team to document the important notes from the meeting and distribute them to the team within 3 days following the event.
Be sure to make the meeting fun, particularly if it is a full day or more. Include fun activities and food, if possible. Team building activities are always a hit. Just be sure to think ahead about what your team members like and dislike. For instance, a golf team building activity is not a good idea, if everyone on the team dislikes golf!
Do you have other important tips? Please share your great ideas for facilitating effective meetings.