Meetings are an inevitable part of our workdays, but that doesn’t mean they have to fill your calendar with pointless gatherings. Optimizing your workday, including your meetings, can have a massively positive impact on your team’s productivity, efficiency, and even culture. Running effective meetings is imperative for any organization and being able to hone in on your management or leadership skills when it comes to running meetings is a major life skill. Let’s get started!
13 Meeting Tips for Effective Meetings
This list will dive into the dos and don’ts of running effective meanings so you can begin to hone your craft and lead meetings effectively.
- Create a meeting agenda
- State the meeting purpose
- Use a meeting template
- Invite only the necessary attendees
- Encourage attendees to review the agenda
- Start and end on time
- Keep the meeting interactive
- Take note of key information and decisions
- End with clear action items
- Rotate meeting roles
- Manage the energy; and keep it exciting
- Ask for feedback about your meetings
- Use a purpose-based meeting management tool
1 Create a meeting agenda
No agenda, no attenda. A meeting without an agenda is an immediate red flag. A solid agenda allows the host of the meeting to ensure all important action items are discussed and not forgotten. It also allows the host to have complete control over the room. Ideally, every topic that must be discussed at the meeting will be detailed in the agenda along with a timeline for each talking point. A detailed agenda will not only ensure the meeting at hand runs smoothly, but it will also ensure that every attendee is able to show up to the meeting feeling organized and prepared. Building a solid meeting agenda that optimizes creativity and keeps the entire team on track is an art.
Having a meeting agenda will keep your meetings on track and organized. Create a collaborative meeting agenda with a tool like Fellow.
2 State the meeting purpose
Everyone feels better attending a meeting when they know what the end goal is and have a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting. You can stage the purpose of your meeting during your first kickoff meeting or within your meeting template. Additionally, each section of the template should make it clear what the purpose and structure of the meeting is.
3 Use a meeting template
Similarly, to the way in which a meeting agenda helps you plan and organize your meetings, a meeting template will help you take your planning to the next level. Creating a meeting template that aligns with your meeting’s purpose will ensure each section of the meeting runs smoothly while aligning the rest of your team. A template also allows you to create an inclusive meeting, where each member can own a section and contribute to their respective section within the template. If you want to initiate engagement or allow others to participate in the meeting in a controlled manner, inviting them to fill out a section of the template in advance is a great way to do it.
4 Invite only the necessary attendees
When preparing for an effective meeting, it’s important that you be strategic with the guest list. If you over-invite, the meeting will become chaotic or even saturated. If you’re hosting a cross-functional meeting, it may be unnecessary to invite more than one person from each department. Instead, you can prioritize inviting one main stakeholder or decision-maker from each department. Ultimately, you want to make sure you’re inviting people that are going to be able to move the needle forward instead of people that won’t be able to contribute in the way you need.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you also don’t want to jam up other people’s calendars with meetings that aren’t necessary for them to attend. Time is money, and every organization wants to make sure they are optimizing each and every employee’s time, meaning it’s important to be conscious of how this meeting will be affecting everyone’s schedule.
5 Encourage attendees to review the agenda
Encouraging all meeting attendees to review the meeting agenda ahead of time is a great way to ensure everyone is on track and moving towards success. But don’t forget to send out the meeting agenda in advance! We recommend sending out an agenda 24-48 hours in advance. If everyone reviews the meeting agenda in advance, it eliminates the potential for confusion or unwarranted questions during the meeting. Fellow has an excellent integration that enables meeting hosts to set up an automated reminder that prompts attendees to review the meeting agenda and add comments in advance.
6 Start and end on time
There’s nothing worse than kicking off a meeting late or being stuck on a call when the meeting was supposed to have finished way earlier. Ensure you start your meeting on time and be mindful of the end time. If you start late, you run the risk of not being able to touch on all action points and if you end late, you run the risk of not being able to complete the other tasks you set out to do. It can also begin to impede other teammates’ schedules or grow to be a point of frustration for everyone in attendance.
7 Keep the meeting interactive by inviting everyone to participate
An effective meeting means everyone feels included and understood while simultaneously moving through an organized template or meeting agenda that touches on all talking points. A great way to host an interactive meeting is to invite everyone to participate. Prioritize asking different people for their opinions and make a point of including attendees that wouldn’t normally speak up or share their opinion. If you notice someone is taking control over the meeting and talking too much, try to bring the conversation back on track.
8 Take note of key information and decisions
There’s nothing worse than having an ‘aha moment’ during a meeting and then forgetting the core details that made the moment so great when the meeting finishes. If you want to stay focused and on track, you should make taking thorough meeting notes a priority. Taking down these notes also provides you with the tools you need to send everyone a follow-up email post-meeting. If an attendee missed the meeting, you will be able to send them a thorough recap as soon as the meeting finishes.
9 End with clear action items
Effective meetings rely on clear action items. One of the most important elements of running an effective meeting is arguably ending the meeting with clear action items. Ending the meeting with clear actions will help guide everyone in the right direction. Action items keep you and your teammates organized by creating a clear set of goals or expectations that follow specified deadlines. If the meeting ends and there are no action items in place, those who attended won’t know how to proceed and some projects may fail to progress past the meeting stage.
10 Rotate meeting roles
In order to run an effective meeting, you must have an organized host, an efficient note-taker, and a detail-oriented timekeeper. Even better if you can rotate throughout the roles and give attendee the opportunity to try each one. Giving each attendee the opportunity to play a large role within the meeting will not only keep everyone in attendance engaged, but it will also teach them important leadership skills, like running a meeting.
11 Manage the energy; and keep it exciting
As the manager or meeting host, it’s your job to make sure that everyone enjoys attending your meetings. If you notice that your meetings tend to be low energy, consider spicing it up and adding a little bit of pep. If you notice that attendees aren’t engaged, consider thinking of creative ways to include them in the conversation. You can do this by dedicating specific sections of your agenda to high energy points that focus on big wins or team shoutouts. Fellow Founder Aydin incorporates these sections into our Town Hall meeting agenda.
12 Ask for feedback about your meetings
The single greatest way to improve is to seek feedback and asking your colleagues or teammates for their honest feedback is a great way to know if you’re hosting effective meetings. It can be as simple as sending a Slack message post-meeting or simply asking for feedback when the meeting finishes. If it’s a recurring meeting, you can ask once per quarter. If it’s a quarterly meeting, you can ask every time it takes place. Regardless, the idea is to seek feedback frequently and consistently so you can continue to improve. With Fellow, you can easily send feedback after every meeting with a quick emoji reaction or with a more customizable questionnaire.
13 Use a purpose-based meeting management tool
Taking notes in your notebook or in a Google Doc is simply not enough. Try integrating tools that amplify and optimize your efforts. Resources like Fellow allow you to take your meetings to the next level by making it possible for you to connect your meeting agendas to your calendar. Fellow also enables you to assign action items with due dates after every meeting, so you can keep everyone that attends the meeting engaged and on track.
Being organized for every meeting will make them more productive and overall enjoyable to attend. When there is a collaborative meeting agenda that clearly outlines the purpose of the meeting, what talking points need to be discussed, and clear next steps for attendees, the meeting will run smoothly and you’ll leave feeling accomplished. Try these meeting tips during your next meeting and be prepared to have productive, engaging conversations with your team!