Regular team meetings and discussions are an important part of working as a team, regardless of the type of work you are performing. A good team is one which is communicative, and productive staff meetings are an important tool in making sure each member of your workforce is on the same page as to their assignments and expectations.
Whether you are dealing with long term projects or one-off jobs, team management is vital to maintaining an efficient workflow and staying on top of productivity. Regular and effective team meetings seem like a no brainer for facilitating good management, yet surveys have shown that as high as 70% of all meetings are unproductive and ineffective. So what strategies can we use to get more out of our team meetings?
What do effective and productive team meetings look like?
A poor team meeting is one which wastes working time. Effective meetings are sharp and to the point, providing important communication without unduly wasting potentially productive employee time. A good meeting will be conducted with a specific purpose rather than simply being a habitual gathering for generic ‘updates’
You want your meetings to be as short as they can be while still communicating effectively, as you don’t want to find yourself wasting valuable work time. You can utilise a number of strategies to make sure your team meetings are useful rather than a waste of time. We’ve put together some of the best ones in our list below.
6 Strategies for Conducting Productive and Effective Team Meetings
1. Understand the purpose and outcomes of a specific meeting
Prior to going into your meeting, it’s important to have a plan and purpose in place. As the person running the meeting, making it effective and not wasting anyone’s time is your responsibility. A clear purpose for the meeting will help to direct discussion and prevent you from going over unnecessary talking points, while knowing your desired outcomes for the meeting will help you be succinct and direct in your communication. If you go into a meeting without a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish, you will quickly find yourself meandering pointlessly.
2. Create a set agenda for the meeting
When you know what you want to get out of your meeting, and have the specific purpose of your meeting set out, one of the best ways to keep on track to accomplishing those outcomes is to set a team meeting agenda.
An agenda will work as a sort of checklist, letting you make sure you cover the full purpose of the meeting and helping to keep your meeting on task and productive. You know what your desired outcomes are, and you meeting agenda provides you with the steps towards meeting those outcomes.
3. Plan the meeting keeping the attendees in mind
Perhaps the most common contributor to the ineffective team meeting is that often the meeting is irrelevant for a significant number of attendees, and therefore is a waste of their time. If your meeting has a clear purpose, then you will know who the meeting is relevant to, and it falls to you to make sure that you aren’t wasting the work time of staff who won’t get any value out of attending.
So, with your purpose in mind, make sure only those who will benefit from attendance are actually at the meeting. You’ll find that it is incredibly rare that your entire team needs to attend a meeting – smaller, shorter, and more to the point meetings with relevant attendees will be a far more effective team meeting strategy.
4. Set the right environment to hold the meeting
The right environment is crucial to holding an effective meeting. Make sure the space you have is enough for your attendees to feel comfortable and not cramped. If you intend to share any presentation material, it’s important to consider whether the space you are using has the required facilities – will your presentation be easily viewable/readable by everyone? Will attendees need to take notes for reference during their work later? Considering the environment will help you to make sure everyone is able to actually take in the information being shared, letting you reduce the need to repeat yourself later and making sure you won’t find yourself in a situation where information has been misunderstood or misinterpreted.
The right environment will also help you to avoid wasting time! While a lunch meeting at a local restaurant with a colleague may be enjoyable, you’ll likely find yourself getting distracted from the original purpose of the conversation.
5. Set some time to allow discussions in the meeting
Inevitably any meeting to deliver important information will generate questions and discussion points from your team – many of which will be valuable inputs to the conversation! Having accounted for time to receive that input in your meeting schedule will help allow you to better manage the discussion in a positive direction. A clearly defined timeframe for additional discussion will prevent the conversation from going off topic and stop you from wasting too much time if nothing of value is being generated. It will also encourage only the most important additions to a discussion.
6. Take feedback from team members to improve
Your team are a great soundboard for improving your meeting habits and getting the most out of your team meetings. Make sure that you have avenues for your team members to offer feedback or suggestions for your meeting practices. Doing so will let you leverage the experience of your attendees and offer you afresh perspective on what aspects of meetings are valuable and what might be considered a waste of time.