Leading a Productive Team Meeting: 7 Essential Tips
When it comes to leading a productive team meeting, it’s very easy to think that if you do it often, you do it well. For comparison, imagine a doctor’s handwriting – after years of writing prescriptions it’s still illegible. There are always small (or large) improvements you can make and it doesn’t take much to make a substantial difference in how productive your meetings are.
Techniques and tools that teach you how to have a productive team meeting have been in constant development over the years, and there are an endless amount of ways to improve. Whether it is your pre-meeting preparation, how to keep your participants engaged, or how to learn from your mistakes, there’s always a way to make a meeting better than the last.
So here we’re going to walk you through our top seven tips that will help you boost your productivity. None of them will require drastic change, just a positive outlook and the smart use of the tools at your disposal.
1. Get your documents in order
Face-to-face or video meetings are great, but it’s very easy to lose track of what you’ve discussed if your record keeping isn’t up to scratch.One of the biggest complaints against meetings is how much time they take up, so any preparation you can do to reduce that is a good strategy.
With collaborative documents, you can share your minutes in advance and set the access rights to only allow a select set of people editing access. At the end of the meeting, your productive team meeting agenda turns into a record of everything you spoke about. Keep updating this single document every time you have a meeting and your record keeping will be a piece of cake.
2. Be smart about your event planning
Leading a productive team meeting automatically implies planning it well, and there are plenty of simple ways to do this. Be careful about who you choose to invite. Not everyone needs to be involved in the decision-making process, but you do have to think about who to notify about any decisions made.
The next step is to send out your meeting documents a day or two before the meeting so your participants have time to prepare. Once you’ve got an event planning system that works, you can duplicate it and make a checklist for preparation, mid-meeting tasks, and post-meeting tasks.
3. Shake up your format to keep things dynamic
Everybody has been in a 9 a.m. meeting that drags on and feels completely pointless. However, when leading a meeting, you can change things here and there and keep your team engaged. One of the more agile ways of running meetings is by following the Scrum methodology. Scrum teams combine daily stand-up meetings with reviews and retrospectives every two weeks.
Teams love the balance of quick 15-minute meetings every day and a more detailed, well-prepared meeting to look back on work done and plan the next steps. By keeping things short, sweet, and active, your team will stay focused and take more from your meetings.
4. Keep an eye on your time
Use a time tracker to record the timings of your meetings and analyze them to identify the best team meeting structure. If you’re losing productivity because people aren’t arriving punctually, send them a private message to see how you can help them turn up on time, and if your meeting often goes off-topic for a while, improve in the future by working on a stricter agenda.
Being known for sticking to your time limits helps when leading a productive team meeting. Attendees know they’ll start and end on time, so are more likely to stay engaged throughout the session.
5. Adapting to online meetings
With so many teams going remote, the idea of what leading a productive team meeting means has changed. The most obvious change is the massive uptick in video calls to replace physical meetings. With the new online format, it’s important to do some level setting from the outset.
Common rules are to always have cameras turned on, and microphones muted when participants aren’t speaking. Use your judgement to decide whether you need to implement rules such as being dressed in work attire or raising your virtual hand before you speak. By instilling this kind of professionalism in the company culture, you will be setting the groundwork for productive meetings.
6. Set future tasks throughout your meeting
There’s nothing worse than an hour-long meeting that ends with everybody going their separate ways with no plan of action. It’s very likely that your team meeting is part of a wider project, so set your future tasks and deadlines as you go. Assign a note taker and brief them on how to use your project management tools.
When you’re working out how to lead a meeting effectively, these methodical techniques should be front and center to avoid information falling through the cracks and to have concrete and productive next steps.
7. Use feedback forms to keep improving
Last but certainly not least is getting good feedback. Leading a productive team meeting is a cyclical process that doesn’t end when your session finishes. Make a quick and easy form for your meeting participants to tell you how they think you should improve in the future.
It doesn’t have to be anything special, just an overall satisfaction with the meeting, a field to say what was good and another to write down what could be improved. Make sure you assign yourself a task and set a reminder, so you don’t forget to analyze your results, and you’re well on your way to improvement.
Start making your meetings more productive
We’re sure you’re already aware of some of the issues you have in your meetings already, and we hope you’ve found some useful solutions in this article.
The main takeaway here though, is that these tips don’t have to break the bank or revolutionize your company processes, so implementing them couldn’t be easier. So looking forward, try using the tools and techniques laid out here to start improving your meeting productivity.