The most productive meetings are ones that encourage collaboration amongst all team members. To make the most out of a meeting and get your team involved, try these tips!
Before calling a meeting, ask yourself whether a meeting is essential. Could what you want to share be accomplished by sending out a well-worded email? Or is this a topic that will elicit feedback and create productive conversations?
If you’ve determined that you definitely need a meeting, then set a clear purpose for the meeting. Is the goal to gather feedback on a particular topic? Do you need to make a decision as a group on something? If it’s a planning meeting for a larger project, presentation, or event, what portion will you work on during this particular meeting? Having a clearly defined purpose helps you guide the discussion better and know when the purpose has been accomplished.
Creating and distributing a plan helps the attendees feel better prepared to participate in the meeting. Employees don’t like to feel put on the spot, so if there is a topic you’d like feedback on, put it on the agenda! This way, subordinates will be able to start brainstorming and making notes in a quiet low-pressure environment before having to share their thoughts with the group.
An agenda will also help keep the meeting organized and focused on the topic of discussion. It will also help you as the host keep track of whether the meeting is progressing as scheduled. You may notice that your team is spending a long time discussing one agenda item. This happens a lot and can mean that people are really engaged in the discussion, which is a great sign. The agenda will help you decide whether to move them along to the next item or to allow the brainstorming and discussion to continue and then skipping over some items or leaving them for the next meeting. You will have a quick reference of all topics you planned to cover and assess their urgency or importance while knowing that you don’t forget anything.
Leave plenty of time in your agenda for open discussion and brainstorming. This is one of the most valuable ways that you can use meeting time. Some of the greatest innovation and problem-solving comes from bringing teams together to work through ideas and solutions together. As the host, make sure that you create an open environment for brainstorming and that nobody is being judged negatively for their contributions. The goal of brainstorming is to create many potential ideas or answers, and not all will be fully thought out or perfect, so try to embrace and show appreciation for any contributions.
Part of encouraging open discussion is accepting that there will likely be some conflict. Many meeting facilitators will try to shut down conflict when it arises, but experienced facilitators know that healthy conflict can be extremely productive.
Healthy conflict allows the group to make better decisions by exploring different perspectives, challenging their own ideas, and creating lively discussions. It is important to ensure that everyone remains respectful and professional while engaging in healthy conflict or debate. Meeting facilitators should step in if there are any mean-spirited or otherwise offensive comments made.
Do not let the meeting drag on. Once the meeting has reached a logical stopping point, achieved the meeting’s purpose, gotten through the agenda, or reached the stated end time of the meeting, adjourn the meeting and let everyone go.
If you can, try to end it a few minutes early. People’s minds tend to wander towards the end of meetings, and participation will die down as nobody wants to start a discussion that will extend the length of the meeting past its scheduled end time.
Try to avoid leading every meeting. Often, teams or companies have one leadership member who tends to head every staff meeting or team meeting. However, empowering others to lead a meeting or co-lead can help change things and keep meetings interesting. You may even find that the discussion takes a unique and productive turn with someone else facilitating.
When hosting, it’s important to keep an eye on the overall vibe of the meeting. Are people starting to get tired, frustrated, or disinterested? If so, it may be time to start wrapping up the meeting and continuing the discussion later. Does the discussion seem to be moving from healthy debate to a heated discussion?
If people are using a more frustrated tone or displaying negative body language or facial expressions, it may be time to steer the conversation away from that particular issue. Keep an eye on the overall vibe and ensure that it remains positive, respectful, and focused on the meeting’s purpose. Also, be on the lookout for people who seem ready to speak but are hesitating, ignored, or spoken over.
Most of us are collaborating remotely right now. When possible, opt for a Zoom or Google Meet call over a telephone conference call and encourage attendees to turn on their cameras. People tend to be more collaborative when all cameras are on. A lot of communication is nonverbal, and you all miss out on that when people keep their cameras off during discussions. It is also much easier for larger meetings to keep track of speaking during a zoom call rather than on the phone.
Also, employees have a tendency to zone out or multitask when on a longer call without video. A collaborative meeting requires that everyone remained focused, practices active listening, and is ready to contribute.
More to Explore:
Why Taking Breaks Can Be Productive – Here
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Supporting Coworkers During COVID – Here
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