Meetings bring people together for a purpose with a defined beginning, middle, and end. Whether in-person, or remote, most work environments hold at least one meeting each week, and many have them daily. They may consist of all-hands meetings, team meetings, and 1-on-1 meetings. Each type offers its own benefits and the structure for each varies. So how can you make the most out of your work meetings? Here are some suggestions.
Be clear on your Intention for the meeting
Prior to the meeting, it’s important for attendees to know the purpose of the meeting and to have it clearly defined. By outlining the agenda, and involving only those necessary, the meeting will feel more organized and purposeful. It’s important to have meetings out of necessity and not a habit. Doing so will improve the quality of the meetings even though the quantity is less.
Encourage Engagement and Presence
People can view meetings as interruptions to their “real work” so it’s important to get everyone’s attention at the beginning of the meeting and promote a sense of presence. Harvard Business Review recommends, “As the conversation gets started, try to adopt a stewardship mindset, asking questions, engaging others, modeling active listening, drawing out concerns, and managing conflicts.” Remember that the way you open a meeting conveys the tone for the meeting. Going back to the first point, remind attendees of the purpose of the meeting and spend the first 5 minutes doing a check-in with the team and encouraging engagement. When you’re meeting in person, meetings tend to be more relaxed and have a sense of comradery. Whereas virtual meetings or calls tend to be straight to the point and can lose the feel of a team environment and collaboration. Depending upon which type of meeting you’re having, you may need to work harder to encourage engagement with the attendees.
Be Open to Change
If your environment is one in which repeat meetings are necessary, be open to adaptation and change. Take a poll with the routine attendees on what their “pain points” are with the meetings and their suggestions to make the meetings better. Keep these polls anonymous so everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions and suggestions. In the same Harvard Business Review article, they gave an example of a manager who did just that and by asking for feedback, “He’d shown that he was a leader who valued reflection, learning, flexibility, taking reasonable risks, not being complacent, and trying new things, and his employees were rewarding him with proactive problem-solving.” It may be time to makeover your team meetings and get the input of your attendees on the ways they’d like to see meetings conducted moving forward.