We have all been to two types of meetings – the meeting that is highly productive; attendees have a focused discussion, and the meeting objective is achieved. On the other hand, there are meetings where the discussion has gone off-track minimizing participation from the attendees, and it eventually ends up being unproductive for the entire group.
What differentiates the two meetings? Meeting ground rules.
By setting ground rules for your meeting, participants have a clear understanding of what is expected out of the discussion leading to a successful meeting.
To help you get started, we have shared 9 ground rules that you can implement right away to make your meetings more productive.
1. Start and end the meeting on time
Whether you are a meeting participant or a meeting owner, always plan to be on time.
If you are the meeting owner, it might be beneficial to dial into the meeting or arrive at the conference room a couple of minutes early and take a moment to prepare for the discussion. The last thing you would want is to arrive at the meeting with all other participants waiting for you to begin.
Alternatively, if you are a meeting participant, be on time to ensure that you do not hold up the discussion. If you are running late, give the meeting owner a heads-up so that they can plan for it ahead of the meeting.
Similarly, ending the meeting on time is also critical. To prepare, account for a 2-3 min buffer in your agenda if you anticipate that the discussion might take longer. If you do end up going over the agenda in time, give everyone their 2-3 min back.
2. Share meeting agenda before the meeting
Sharing the agenda before the meeting allows attendees to prepare for a productive discussion and enables them to absorb the content at their own pace. Attendees can also suggest any changes to the agenda if needed. This promotes a sense of combined ownership of the agenda resulting in higher engagement to drive the discussion forward.
Using the five tips to create an effective meeting agenda, you can create a great meeting agenda so that everyone walks out of the meetings feeling accomplished and productive.
3. Designate a note-taker
Every meeting should have an individual designated to capture and share meeting notes after the meeting. Not only does this help drive ownership for the “official” note-taker, but this also eases other attendees, including the meeting owner, to not multitask and focus on having an effective discussion.
The note-takers primary responsibility is to capture meeting outcomes - discussion, key decisions, and action items during the meeting and circulate the meeting minutes with all the participants after the meeting.
4. Set the meeting context and review expected outcomes
Take the first 1-2 min of the meeting to go over the meeting objective, expected meeting outcome and outline how you plan to spend the rest of the time. This will help meeting attendees structure their thought according to your agenda and prevent situations where people skip agenda topics unknowingly and thereby derailing the discussion. This will also help the note taker organize meeting notes and efficiently capture the discussion.
5. Follow the agenda
You have checked all boxes to prepare for a productive meeting including assigning note-taker, sharing agenda beforehand, setting context, etc., which is great! Once you are in the meeting, don’t shy away from enforcing the agenda and being a timekeeper. If the discussion is going over the allotted time, pause the discussion to make the participants aware of the time and summarize key decisions. Similarly, if you see attendees skipping agenda topics, feel free to park the topic and let them know that it is scheduled to be discussed later in the meeting.
6. Encourage participation
A good way to effectively facilitate a meeting is by ensuring that all participants get an equal opportunity to speak up and put across their point of view. An effective way to nudge attendees to stay engaged and participate in the discussion is by asking leading questions like – “Is there any other viewpoint from the group?” or “Matt, looks like this topic is related to your area of expertise, what do you suggest we do here?”
7. Summarize meeting outcomes at the end of the meeting or before switching a topic
After a meeting, the meeting owner or the designated note-taker should share the meeting minutes to ensure that stakeholders are aligned on the discussion, key decisions, and follow-ups or meeting action items. However, stay one step ahead by ensuring this alignment during the meeting itself. The meeting owner or the note-taker should take a minute to summarize the key decisions and action items towards the end of the meeting or during the meeting when topics switch. This ensures less back and forth after the meeting and allows others to suggest changes when all the attendees are still present and available for a follow-up discussion.
8. Share meeting minutes after the meeting
Meeting notes should be shared at the earliest, after the meeting. This ensures that the content remains relevant, and the meeting attendees can review the notes for any inconsistencies. Sharing notes early also eliminates ambiguity if the stakeholders have already started working on the action items.
Since meeting minutes are a mechanism to Capture, Share, and Reference meeting outcomes, a lightweight tool like Loopin makes sharing meeting minutes seamless.