When effective, meetings are a wonderful tool to keep teammates in check and projects moving right along. However, most of us have sat through an unnecessary meeting or two (or two hundred), which led to wasted time! To avoid aimless face time with colleagues, check out these steps towards more effective meetings:  

1. What’s the objective?

First and foremost, to host effective meetings, clear objectives needs to be set. What is the purpose for gathering together? Is there a reason why are you discussing this topic? Attendees should know exactly why the meeting has been called and the desired outcome. If you can’t land on a clear objective when setting the meeting, it’s most likely unnecessary to organize the appointment in the first place.

2. It’s all in the agenda.

When it comes to effective meetings, preparation is key. Creating a clear agenda ahead of time is important because it’s the meeting’s to-do list. Just imagine if you showed up for work in the morning without a clue about which tasks that you needed to complete. Your day would be chaos, right? The same goes for meetings; without an agenda to keep things in order, potentially effective meetings can spiral out into meandering, unfocused conversations.

Keep the agenda basic and and to the point. Here are some items to consider including for attendees:

  • Date, time and location
  • List of attendees
  • List of topics
  • List of teammates who will cover each topic

Most importantly, make sure to send all attendees the agenda ahead of your meeting time to ensure everyone is ready to go.

3. Be strict.

While it’s easy to wait on tardy teammates, time is precious! In order to conduct an effective meeting, lay down the law when it comes to star and end time. Begin right at the agreed upon meeting time and not a minute later. By maintaining a tight schedule, you will show respect for your attendees and their valuable time.

Aside from being conscious of punctuality, try to limit distractions to keep attendees’ attention on the topic at hand. Encourage your colleagues to bring only a pen and notepad to the meeting (unless an electronic is absolutely required). By limiting the amount of technology in the room, there will be less temptation to check an email or work on another project during the meeting.

4. Close with clear action items.

Teamwork makes the dream work, right? Unfortunately, after hours of seemingly productive meeting time, even the best teams can leave the room, scratching their heads asking, “Wait, what did we decide on again?” Over the course of a meeting, your team will most likely determine a list of action items that need to be completed in order to push project move forward. To be extra effective, make any action items as clear as possible by writing them out on a whiteboard or typing them in an email or other document. Projects can easily go unfinished or forgotten if everyone isn’t on the same page, so writing action items down will help to commit them to memory and set expectations for the team moving forward.

5. Follow up.

It’s easy to commit to a laundry list of items during a meeting when the team is all together. However, our memories are unreliable and things can get forgotten (especially if your day is jam packed with back-to-back meetings!) That’s why it’s always best to send reminders. To make your next meeting uber efficient, prioritize send a follow-up message within 24 hours. Not only will this hold teammates accountable, it will also create a nice paper trail for the future. If a teammate forgets what they’re supposed to do, they can always refer to the follow-up email that was sent!

Hosting a meeting is a great way to keep a team on track and have some facetime, but only if it’s planned cautiously. Next time you decide to call a meeting, take these steps to maximize effectiveness! How do you get the most of your team meetings? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!