5 Tips to Run a Better Meeting
By Toni Buffa Posted July 11, 2022
Our time at work is precious – no one wants to spend an hour or more during their day on a meeting where nothing was accomplished. Unfortunately, this scenario is very common. You get a meeting invite with no agenda, attend the meeting – there are people talking over one another – no clear goals or action items were set, and nothing was accomplished.
Only 11% of meetings are productive, even though organizations spend roughly 15% of their time on meetings. In fact, the vast majority, or 71%, are considered unproductive.
It is essential to fully understand the bottom line of what meetings genuinely are and how to run the most effective meetings at your organization. Workshopper, a content specialist site, states that the purpose of a meeting, in general, is simple, a meeting should be set to provide alignment for the team and give clear steps for a project or effort.
With these five tips, we hope to help you run the most effective meetings to get the most out of the time spent for you, your coworkers, and your organization.
Keep the meeting size small
A small meeting size allows for real interaction where all participants exchange views. This AWS whitepaper discusses the importance of decreasing your meeting size to increase collaboration. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a two-pizza rule stating that no meeting should be so large that two pizzas can’t feed the whole group. According to the rule, every meeting should be small enough that attendees could be fed with two large pizzas—the smaller the team, the better the collaboration.
How many people would this ideally be? Well according to this pizza calculator (which is funny enough to be a real thing) – a large 14’’ pizza has about 8-10 slices that could feed 3-4 people - so doubling that would be around 6-10 people.
Other than not having enough pizza for the whole group (only kidding…), when there are too many people in a meeting group, often it’s hard for everyone to have their voice heard. At least 30% of workers believe that their ideas are shut down or not heard far too quickly in meetings.
Aim for having no more than ten people in a meeting. Each additional group member added beyond the ten-person cap drastically increases the possibility of experiencing ineffective communication and poor productivity.
Appointing roles ahead of time
Once you have the attendance list created and meeting invites have been emailed out, it’s a good idea to assign meeting roles. Some roles that may be assigned would be note-taker, timekeeper, decision-maker, facilitator, etc.
Depending on the meeting purpose, and people involved, role types can be adjusted as you see fit. For example, not all meetings will need a timekeeper or decision-maker.
Set an agenda
Agendas are crucial for keeping everyone on track and keeping meetings as brief as possible. The agenda is the first thing people will see before the meeting begins, setting the goals and intentions for what will be covered. Unfortunately, research shows that only 37% of workplace meetings actively make use of agendas. When this happens, there is no clit’s sense of purpose.
Sending out your agenda ahead of time will drive the purpose of the invitation to your meeting. This should include topics, an estimate on how long each topic should last, and due dates where applicable. A good agenda template could look like this:
- Meeting Title
- Progress Update (10 minutes)
- Put relevant metrics here
- Goals for this week (5 minutes)
- Discuss and agree on priorities for the week
- New business (15 minutes)
- Example: New hire this week, their first day is Wednesday
- Review/Questions/Action Plan (10 minutes)
- This is where post-meeting notes will go, for example, @name task due next Monday
When reviewing your agenda, note how long you allocate to each topic. In general, shorter meetings have shown more engaged participants and more productive discussions.
Start on time and end on time
When meetings start and end late – it damages employee engagement. Not only this, but it can give off the message that your needs are more important than theirs. This isn’t what the meeting facilitator is trying to give off, but to demonstrate respect to those in the room, you must value their time properly. This means moving the meeting along and politely addressing sidebars.
If you've developed a solid agenda and thought through how long each topic will require, you will have scheduled the meeting for the appropriate amount of time. However, meetings will run late sometimes – it’s just the nature of the game. If you realize a meeting might run over, decide if another meeting needs to be scheduled before diving into a new topic.
End with an action plan
The last few minutes of every meeting should be reserved for discussing action items. This should address specific tasks, who is responsible, and deadlines should be handled.
Think of your action plan as an order confirmation email after doing some online shopping. In an order confirmation email, there is typically a section for what was purchased, a description, and the expected delivery date.
The follow-up email to the meeting attendees should be just that! What was discussed, who is responsible for the task (or tasks), and a due date.
Keep these five tips handy when planning your next company meeting. We hope this helps your company have more effective, productive, and enjoyable meetings for all involved!
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