Whether you are the meeting owner or the meeting participant, it is important to ensure that every meeting that you are a part of is productive and is the best use of everyone’s time. A successful meeting requires good planning and collaboration amongst the meeting attendees.
Here we share 9 tips that you can start implementing today to make the most of your time in meetings:
- Determine if a meeting is needed
- Outline meeting objective
- Create attendee list
- Share agenda and request feedback
- Stick to the agenda during the meeting
- Encourage participation
- Summarize meeting outcomes
- Assign action items
- Circulate meeting notes
Determine if a meeting is needed
“This meeting could have been an email!” Most of us have seen this running joke about meetings... in fact, most of us have thought about this at some point during a meeting (You know who you are!).
The purpose of a meeting (synchronous communication) is to arrive at ideas, plans, solutions, and decisions. However, not every decision needs the combined focus of the entire group at the same time. Meetings should be reserved for only urgent and important matters. Anything outside of this should be addressed using asynchronous communication i.e., e-mail, project management tools, messaging applications, documenting note and action items in a shared workspace, etc.
Outline meeting objective
Now that you have decided that you do need a meeting, the first step in ensuring that it is productive is by defining the objectives of the meeting. Do you want to share an update with your team? Do you need your team’s feedback? Do you want to align on a strategy? By clearly outlining your meeting goals, you are more likely to get the desired outcome at the end of the meeting. Finalizing the meeting objective will also help you curate an attendee list for your meeting e.g. If you expect to come out of the meeting with a specific decision, you will want to decision-makers to be in that (virtual) room.
Create attendee list
“I see Samantha is not in this meeting, we need her perspective before taking a decision” This scenario is very common and is one of the biggest drivers of an inefficient meeting. This situation can be prevented by proactively identifying people that are required to be in the meeting for you to successfully achieve your meeting goal.
Share agenda and request feedback
A meeting agenda is a list of activities, tasks, goals that the meeting owner or participants wish to discuss and accomplish during the meeting. Sharing the agenda ahead of the meeting gives attendees a chance to prepare for the discussion and be active participants. It is also a good practice to request feedback on the agenda in case there are considerations that you might have missed when creating the agenda. By contributing to the agenda, the meeting attendees now co-own the agenda and are more driven to arrive at the expected outcome.
Stick to the agenda during the meeting
A best practice when facilitating a meeting is to start by going over the meeting agenda and highlighting the expected meeting outcome. This will help meeting attendees structure their thought according to the agenda and prevent situations where people begin to skip agenda topics unknowingly and thereby derailing the discussion. Moreover, it is not uncommon for meeting discussions to involve conflicts and disagreements in opinion. In case the discussion stagnates, park the conflict to be either resurfaced at a later point or to be raised to the leadership team and keep powering through your agenda.
It is very easy for a meeting to be dominated by a couple of attendees who are putting across their viewpoint and for the rest of the attendees to remain silent during the meeting. In such scenarios, the meeting facilitator or meeting attendees can play a pivotal role and encourage more participation from the group. This can be done by asking leading questions to the group like – “Is there any other viewpoint from the group?” or “Hey Sandra, what do you think about this approach?” Another way to promote participation would be to create a collaborative document/whiteboard and ask attendees to note down their thoughts
Summarize meeting outcomes
Meeting minutes, also known as minutes of meeting (MoM) or meeting notes are written records of a meeting. Effective meeting minutes highlight key decisions, action items & next steps. As a best practice, reserve a couple of minutes at the end of the meeting or before switching topics to summarize the discussion. This will help you surface any misalignment within the group and prevent churn at a later point. This will also fasten the process of circulating meeting minutes after the meeting.
Assign action items
Action items are tasks, events, or activities usually defined during a meeting. A best practice when capturing action items and the task is to assign a single owner right away. This drives accountability and ensures that you have one point of contact to reach out to regarding any updates on the assigned task.
Circulate meeting notes immediately
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. A common way to share meeting notes is via company email. Some teams are also using other applications like JIRA, Asana, or Slack to track individual tasks outlined in meetings. However, these applications fail to capture the context behind these tasks or provide a meeting summary. A lightweight tool like Loopin checks all boxes and helps you capture, share, and reference meeting outcomes in a breeze.