Plan and Run Better Meetings With These Simple 7 Steps

Everyone has an opinion about meetings. I bet at least two came to mind when you read the word “meetings.” Despite your previous experience with meetings, they can be productive and enjoyable with a little bit of intentional planning! Follow these simple 7 steps the next time you’re charged with leading a team meeting.

1. Get clear on your WHY. Before bringing people together for a meeting, you must have a clearly defined purpose. Are you meeting to make a decision? Or to solve a problem? Is the purpose of the meeting to give feedback on a proposal? Even if your purpose is to build teamwork, make sure your meeting purpose is crystal clear and is shared with all meeting attendees before the meeting. (If you can’t think of a purpose, don’t have a meeting.)

2. Define your desired outcome (your WHAT). What do you want the meeting to accomplish? What resources, answers or action steps should people walk away with? Get really specific about your desired outcome. Will you solve problem X? Or will you just create a list of potential solutions to problem X? Your desired outcome should be measurable so you can assess whether or not the meeting achieved its goal.

3. Decide on HOW you will achieve your desired outcome. Your HOW is the structure or process of your meeting. Think about what strategies you will use to get to your intended destination. Is someone sharing information via a presentation? Will each team member have 5 minutes to present an idea? When should people ask questions? Planning your structure in advance will help you maximize time during the meeting and ensure that everyone is able to contribute.

4. Decide WHO needs to be at the meeting. Think about who needs to be involved in order to further their work. Does this meeting impact the whole team? Do members from other teams need to contribute? Don’t include people “just because.” The last thing you want is someone who feels like they shouldn’t be there becoming disengaged and throwing off the focus of the meeting. Everyone present should be there because they have something to learn or contribute.

5. Consider WHEN to hold your meeting. When scheduling the day and time, consider people’s schedules and the purpose of the meeting. Depending on how engaged you expect people to be, think about what the rest of their days/ week look like. If people’s work is interrupted or this is their fifth back to back meeting, they might be less present or less likely to make quality contributions. Plan your meeting at a time that will optimize attendance, participation and engagement.

6. EVALUATE your meeting. Spend the last five minutes of every meeting doing a process check. Did you meet your desired outcome? Was the strategy you chose effective? Did people get what they needed? Could the meeting have been more efficient or engaging? You can quickly get this feedback popcorn style or create a 1-5 rating system for two to four criteria. Make this a routine to improve your meetings over time.

7. START and END ON TIME. Last, but possibly the most impactful, start and end your meetings on time. That means do not end even one minute over (including your meeting evaluation). Respect people’s time and they will respect the meeting time.

Consider using these steps to plan and execute your next meeting. Let me know how it goes!

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