By Rahul Balakrishnan
No one likes unproductive meetings. A poorly managed meeting can make employees frustrated, and not-to-forget, it certainly disrupts workflow.
Over the past few years, as a manager, I have had the experience of leading several meetings. Upon reflection, I have realised that they could have been planned better. Trying different things, constantly trying to replicate what works and to eradicate what doesn’t enabled me to hold stronger interventions; and made people leave my meetings feeling energised and motivated to work harder.
Here are 5 tips that will help you in planning and managing meetings better. These tips are not just for group meetings but can be kept in mind for individual one-on-ones and reviews.
- Assign pre-work/ pre-read
Every meeting should ensure that participants are prepared beforehand. Having a pre-work or pre-read would mean stronger reflection. These can include readings (articles and case studies), thoughts to ponder upon, a big problem statement that the organisation is trying to tackle, etc. Pre-work ensures every participant is up to speed even before the meeting. Additionally, it gives an equal chance to everyone to share their ideas and opinions that might otherwise be missed.
- An agenda and a very clear objective
Imagine driving a car to an unknown place without the support of GPS. That’s exactly how a participant feels in a meeting that has no clear agenda or objective. Conducting a meeting with a clear objective ensures it doesn’t deviate from its original purpose.
A good starting point to define an objective of any meeting is to fill in the blank below: At the end of the meeting, the team will be able to ……………..
- No monologues please!
This is a personal favorite of mine. I have attended several meetings where everyone but the ‘facilitator’ is mute. Usually, such meetings are as good as a lecture. A meeting should be a place for every participant to feel safe, respected and be heard. If you are someone who loves to hear their own voice in meetings, well here is a quick tip for you. Time yourself, if you are speaking for more than 15-20% of the total meeting duration, then you are doing it wrong. Create inclusive agendas, have someone in your team to lead parts of the meeting or try having breakaway subgroups as a part of the large meetings.
- No-more dullness
Not every meeting needs to end on a sombre note. A meeting is not just a place to reiterate goals or pick out areas of improvement. Meetings can be a wonderful way to come together, build cohesion and celebrate achievements and successes, however, small they may be. A small note of appreciation or a motivational video and shoutouts are some ways to make meetings less dull.
- Concrete next steps
Through this article, I have tried to highlight the importance of a strong beginning.
This final point, however, is about finishing strong. Every participant at the end of the meeting should be clear with a list of the next steps. If your team isn’t able to articulate this, it’s evident that the meeting was unsuccessful. One way to conclude a meeting would be to ask every participant to share the next steps and takeaways or provide them with a detailed summary of the meeting on email and expect them to reply with individual takeaways as a post-meeting reflective exercise.
Hope this was helpful. We would love to hear your views and best practices on the dos donts of holding meetings. Share with us in the comments below!