Effective meetings can enhance employee engagement, improve team collaboration, increase accountability and lead to faster decision-making
However, conducting such meetings takes a great deal of thought and practice. A large part of the problem is that many managers don’t receive training to conduct effective meetings
Here’s how organisations equip themselves and address this gap to unlock the greatest value from meetings
Knowledge is undoubtedly a strategic asset for companies. However, to maintain a competitive advantage, companies need to make relevant knowledge available at the right time to the concerned team members. Meetings play a key role in this process. During meetings, team members get to refresh and replenish the knowledge pool, which increases the efficiency of the group.
Despite the many advantages, meetings can be ineffective if not planned properly. Surveys indicate that 71% of meetings are considered unproductive, translating to lost employee hours and operational inefficiencies. On the other hand, successful meetings can enhance employee engagement, improve collaboration, increase accountability and lead to faster decision-making. Here’s a look into what planners have in their toolkit to unlock the greatest value from meetings.
Plan And Structure Meetings
The purpose of the meeting needs to be clearly defined. Is it to get quick updates on a project, brainstorm new ideas, or have a discussion to plan the next steps for a product launch? Having tangible meeting outcomes will determine who needs to be present, the agenda and the structure. The outcomes act as guideposts for leaders to steer the meeting in the right direction.
A succinct list of the key messages with time allocations for each ensures the meeting is effective in reaching its intended purpose. If you have regular meetings for a project or a product launch, it’s recommended to keep the meeting structure consistent. This creates muscle memory for your attendees when they attend subsequent meetings.
Share The Agenda In Time
Inform the participants of the agenda and what is expected of them ahead of the meeting. This allows participants to be better prepared and come with a focused mindset. A simple change in the outgoing email from “Meeting to discuss project ABC” to “A discussion on resource allocation to meet the deadline for project ABC” can make the meeting more productive.
The email can provide some details of the agenda, rather than simply mentioning the date and time. Specifying the agenda can prevent a status report discussion from turning into a debate on action points. Managers can politely steer irrelevant comments away and refocus discussions towards the meeting’s intended goal.
Optimise The Headcount
Selecting the right set and number of people not only saves employee hours but also ensures that the discussion remains on track. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 4 to 7 participants are ideal for active projects. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he follows the “two-pizza rule”, meaning that no meeting should have so many participants that two pizzas cannot feed the whole group. Dealing with a smaller group also helps control the group dynamics.
Learn To Manage The Room
The person chairing the meeting must have the ability to read the room. Going by what people are saying offers only half the picture. People may articulate their apprehensions, fears, or excitement in nonverbal ways. Being able to read and respond to these micro-reactions can make a significant difference.
The person running the meeting must also own the room. They must be polite yet assertive, and know when to zoom out of the defined agenda and when to shift the focus back. These abilities can be honed with preparation and practice.
It is crucial for managers to understand the group dynamics to have a constructive dialogue. A team always has members with divergent ideologies, working styles and communication abilities. These may become a significant bottleneck to unlocking the intended value of a meeting.
On the other hand, consciously leveraging this can transform each participant’s outlook and enhance the outcome of the meeting. Open communication, clear direction, quick conflict resolution and optimism can help improve group dynamics, build trust and make way for innovative suggestions.
Handling disruptive behaviour is an essential skill for conducting effective meetings. Such behaviours may stem from a deep-seated issue. Leaders can call these out and set up a different meeting to address them. Disruption can be discouraged by structuring the flow of the meeting, breaking it into shorter sections, and communicating the conclusion at the end of each section.
Hosting effective meetings has become even more challenging with hybrid teams becoming the new normal. Keeping virtual attendees engaged is important for making the most of meetings and avoiding the frustration of being unheard or left out. Effective meetings can improve team collaboration by 42% and performance by 28%. They even increase team satisfaction and employee retention.
However, conducting such meetings takes a great deal of thought and practice. A large part of the problem is that 25% of managers don’t receive training to conduct effective meetings. Organisations are increasingly realising this gap and addressing it.