Meetings are often a necessary part of working life. Unfortunately, not all meetings are created equal. Some end up being complete time-wasters that accomplish nothing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to organize and run effective and productive meetings. Here are some tips.
How to run an effective meeting
1. Decide if the meeting is really needed
The first decision is whether you even need to hold the meeting at all. Consider the meeting goals and whether your team can accomplish them in a different way, such as through a call, group chat, or email. If the answer is yes, then you don’t need the meeting. Save everyone’s time for doing real work instead.
When might you need a meeting? When you need to have group input to make a decision in real-time or to collaborate on solving specific problems. If an issue can best be solved face-to-face with a group, then a meeting is probably appropriate.
Alt text: Top down view of a group of people with laptops around a table at a meeting
2. Have the right people attend
Just as not every meeting needs to occur, not everyone needs to be at a meeting. Before inviting anyone, think about why they are needed and what their contributions will be. If they don’t have any meaningful contribution, then they don’t need to be there.
Just as importantly, make sure that the people who are absolutely required to be there, such as decision-makers, can make it. Otherwise, there is no point in holding the meeting, and you should reschedule it for a different time when they can attend.
3. Choose the right corporate event venue
Holding your meeting on-site is convenient, but why not shake things up with an off-site meeting? Going off-site doesn’t necessarily mean you’re limited to a conference room rental. You’ll find tons of meeting spaces near you in exciting and unexpected spaces, like museums, aquariums, and even amusement parks. When comparing venues, consider how the atmosphere can increase productivity and boost morale.
4. Set an agenda
It’s important to have an agenda for the meeting so participants are aware of the whole point of the meeting and the topics of discussion. You should ideally set the agenda ahead of time and send it out along with the meeting invite. That way, participants can prepare for their roles and make the meeting more productive. They can also add any necessary additional agenda items prior to the meeting.
Having an agenda also helps keep the meeting on track. If the discussion goes off on a tangent, you can easily table the discussion and not derail the meeting with side discussions. To really keep things on track, consider adding a timeline to the agenda items with allocated time frames for each item.
Alt text: Closeup view of hands from a group of people going over some graphs and charts at a meeting
5. Make information available ahead of time
The meeting will be more productive if people have the chance to review any materials, particularly lengthy ones, prior to the meeting. It’s just not realistic to expect people to be able to absorb and sign off on a 100-page report during the meeting. It’s also not a good use of meeting time to simply read out or have attendees read over what could have been reviewed ahead of time.
6. Start and end on time
It’s important to value everyone’s time by starting the meeting on time. Starting the meeting late also sets the wrong tone, and attendees will more likely be distracted as they start focusing on other matters.
Having a meeting start late could lead to the meeting ending late, which can also cause disruptions to everyone’s schedules for the rest of the day. If it looks like the meeting needs to run longer, it’s better to schedule a follow-up meeting than to try to rush through important items with limited time.
7. Sum up and finish up with an action plan
Before ending the meeting, make sure to sum up the meeting and restate what has been agreed to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s also important to discuss any next steps that resulted from the meeting, including who is responsible for what task and when they need to complete them.
Everyone should leave the meeting with a clear idea of the agreements and to-dos. Send around minutes of the meeting to everyone who attended, as well as other team members who couldn’t attend but who could benefit. Include the next steps in the minutes, so team members can easily check what they are responsible for.
8. Ask for feedback
Right after the meeting, ask participants for their feedback so you can gauge how effective the meeting was. That way, you can make adjustments as needed for future meetings. The feedback doesn’t have to be complicated and can be in the form of whether the meeting was good or needed improvements, helpful or not helpful.
For more substantive feedback, you can also ask participants’ thoughts on specific aspects, such as the length of the meeting, the agenda, and whether the meeting achieved its goals. If there is a lot of negative feedback, then you should follow up to see how you can improve for future meetings.
Wrapping up: holding great meetings
With a little planning and organization, it is possible to hold meetings that are productive and effective, as the tips above show. Now that you know what needs to be done, start looking for the perfect corporate event venue to host your meeting.
For more information on how to run an effective meeting, you can check it out here.