We've all sat through bad meetings that felt boring, tedious, or unproductive. Hopefully, you've sat through some good meetings, too, ones that left you energized and ready to put ideas into action. Leading effective meetings is one of the most important skills to hone when you're learning how to be a better manager or meeting facilitator.But what makes a successful meeting, and are there any shortcuts to leading effective meetings? Here's what makes a good meeting — whether it’s a virtual meeting or an in-person one — and seven tips for leading effective meetings of your own.
What Makes a Good Meeting?
The number one question to ask before planning a meeting is this: Is it necessary? In a world of remote work and back-to-back meetings, it can seem like meetings are always expanding to fill the time we allot them.But unproductive meetings are a waste of time, and at worst, an unnecessary meeting can distract your team from their work. If a discussion topic can be an email or a Slack message, choose that instead and save the meeting for another time.That said, meetings have a real purpose, and allow your team to check in and get to know each other face to face. If you have a fully remote team, it’s good to know that your colleagues are real people and not chatbots. Effective meetings help build camaraderie and allow for real-time decision-making.Here’s how to to know when you’ve run a great meeting:
Your Meeting Starts and Ends on Time
Meetings aren’t meant to be all-day hangouts. Give your meeting a clear timeframe to respect people’s time and let them know when they can get back to work.You’ll know that you’ve led a productive meeting if you get through all of your agenda items on time. If not, move the least urgent items to the next meeting agenda, or ask meeting participants if they’re willing and able to stay a bit longer.
You Have Clear Action Items or Takeaways
Have you ever thought, “That was a good meeting!” and then immediately forgot what you agreed to do afterwards? Sometimes, a meeting can be fun and engaging without actually being productive.In order to make the most of your time, be sure to document action items and create key takeaways so meeting participants can reference them after the meeting.
You Have a Renewed Sense of Purpose or Teamwork
Great meetings bring people together. Whether it’s a project kickoff meeting or a daily scrum meeting, it’s your chance to get to know each other as a team. Maybe it’s the only time that all of your stakeholders will be in the same room together.Your meetings can include icebreakers, employee recognition awards, and other fun team meeting ideas to help bond your team.
7 Ideas for Leading Effective Meetings
Now that you know what a great meeting looks like, it’s time to make it a reality. Here’s how to be an effective team leader and run meetings that achieve your objectives:
1. Determine the Type of Meeting
First, get clear on the type of meeting that you want to run. Different types of meetings have different conventions, and in some cases, legal requirements. You’ll need to take more extensive minutes for a board meeting than a team meeting, for example.Here are a few of the most common types of meetings:
Each meeting you run should have a clear purpose. Sometimes, that can be as simple as brainstorming new ideas. In the case of a retrospective meeting, the purpose is to assess how a project went and what you could do differently next time.The purpose of your meeting will inform its length, structure, and who to invite.
2. Choose the Right Time and Place
Next, decide when and where to host your meeting. If all of your team members work in the same office, it’s an easy decision: Choose a space that’s quiet and comfortable, and ideally has a whiteboard and video conferencing equipment.If some or all of your team members work remotely, it can be trickier. You may have to run a hybrid meeting, in which some meeting participants are physically present and others are not, and you may have to accommodate multiple time zones.Either way, create a meeting invite with the meeting time and location so participants can easily add it to their calendar.
3. Keep the Invite List Small
Now, decide who you want to invite to your meeting. It can be tempting to call for all hands on deck, but unless it’s genuinely an all-hands meeting, keep the guest list reasonably small. That will result in less cross-talk and more focus.In some cases, it’s better to meet with team members one-on-one instead of as a group, especially in situations when confidentiality is required. Presentations and webinars can have a larger invite list, since the meeting leader will be doing most of the talking.
4. Establish Ground Rules
Aside from the usual in-person or virtual meeting etiquette, set some ground rules for the meeting. This is especially important if you’ll be making any major decisions. Will you be operating by consensus or following Robert’s Rules of Order?Choose a meeting facilitator to ensure that everyone has a turn to speak and impose a time limit so no one abuses their turn at the microphone.You can also establish other ground rules, such as no laptops during the meeting or no food during the meeting so participants don’t struggle to stay focused.
5. Create a Meeting Agenda
Leading effective meetings starts with setting the agenda. Having an organized meeting agenda allows the facilitator to keep things moving along and to decide how much time to devote to each agenda item. A typical agenda includes a roll call, discussion topics, committee reports, proposals, announcements, and so on.Send out the agenda in advance so participants can prepare for the meeting and read any supporting documents, that way you can jump right in.Use a meeting agenda template to standardize the process from one meeting to the next and make it easier for your note-taker to take notes.
6. Use a Note-Taking Tool
Meeting notes are essential for maintaining a record of your meeting. In some cases, you’ll need an official record of your meeting, and in other cases, you may need to provide a meeting summary to stakeholders who weren’t able to attend.Use an automated note-taking tool like Anchor AI to take meeting notes for you, that way everyone can participate in the meeting and no one has to take notes by hand. Anchor AI can take meeting minutes, transcribe your meeting, and even generate a summary that you can attach to a follow-up email. By automating the note-taking process, you’ll save time and ensure that nothing important gets left out.
7. Assign Action Items
At the end of the meeting, review any action items that came up during the meeting so everyone knows what they have to do next. Action items should be clear and specific, and assigned to an individual team member with a realistic due date.When you use Anchor AI to take notes, it can automatically capture actionable items, assign a task owner and due date, and add them to your action item tracker. Be sure to remind participants about the date of the next meeting, and send out a follow-up email containing the meeting minutes and action items.
Lead Effective Meetings With Anchor AI
Leading effective meetings requires a bit of organization and advance planning — as well as some time management skills. Great leaders do most of the work before the meeting, that way they can be fully present and engaged while it’s in progress.By using Anchor AI to take notes and capture action items for you, you’ll have one less thing to worry about and more time to focus on being an effective leader. Sign up for Anchor AI for free and upgrade to unlock additional functionality!