7 Tips For Hosting Effective Meetings
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Project manager
Olga Semusheva
Project manager
APPROACH
Apr 06 2017

7 Tips For Hosting Effective Meetings

We’ve already discussed the 6 most important project development meetings to have in order to keep things moving forward and we’ve taken an in-depth look at how to plan your project successfully in previous blog posts.

Meetings are tools that help keep the development of a project on track.

Today, we’re going to give you 7 tips for hosting effective meetings. Every meeting should work towards preventing your team from wasting time and should bring you closer to your desired results.

Tip 1: Set a clear goal

Before going into a meeting, it’s important to understand why it is being held. To run effective team meetings, it is vital that every participant is interested, engaged, and has a good understanding of what the goal of the meeting is.

By setting a clear goal, you and your team can use the time scheduled to work towards achieving that goal. You can discuss and resolve any issues that arise or, at the very least, establish the next steps needed in order to get closer to your desired results. If team members are distracted by other calls or emails and are not engaged in the meeting, it quickly becomes a waste of everyone’s time.

A clear objective for each meeting is key in order to keep everyone on track. Sharing meeting goals beforehand allows participants to come to the meeting prepared with ideas, discussion points, and possible blockers. Each participant can decide how to best approach the meeting in order to achieve the stated goal. If a goal is not yet defined, it’s probably better to hold off on hosting the meeting to prevent participants from becoming disengaged and demotivated.

Set a clear goal

Tip 2: Respect the timeframe

An easy way to plan and manage meetings is to adhere to the timeframe established. Ensure that participants arrive on time and are ready to discuss the predefined goal of the meeting. If participants aren’t prepared or something comes up and key stakeholders are unable to attend, it’s better to postpone the meeting than to hold it anyway and get no closer to achieving the set goal.

Meetings should be held at times that work for the key stakeholders and they should be planned for a set timeframe so that participants can adjust their schedules accordingly. Meetings should start and end promptly so that everyone’s time is respected. This also forces participants to focus their efforts in achieving the meeting’s goal, coming prepared and ready to make any necessary decisions.

Tip 3: Stick to the meeting’s agenda

In order to ensure each meeting is productive, it’s crucial to set an agenda that is strictly adhered to. By sharing a meeting’s goal ahead of time, participants can prepare questions or potential issues and the project manager, team lead, or meeting’s host can set an agenda accordingly.

An agenda is a clear plan which the meeting should not deviate from. Setting an agenda ensures that the time spent in the meeting is useful and achieves effective results. Ideally, agenda points are given a set period of time during the meeting to keep things moving forward. This will help participants plan their discussion points, questions, and the rest of their work day effectively.

Having a set agenda and sticking to it helps keep everyone focused on the discussion and ensures that meetings held within your organisation are seen as productive efforts instead of time-wasters. It encourages meeting participants to keep discussions on track. It also allows you to identify areas which may require further discussion and planning, allowing you to set up follow-up meetings with key stakeholders to resolve those points.

Stick to the meeting’s agenda

Tip 4: Use the time wisely

While related to tip #3, this point deserves to be highlighted separately. It’s important to recognise that, while developing a product, there will always be questions or issues that arise along the way. These questions should be discussed and decisions should be made, but they should not be allowed to derail a meeting’s agenda.

Every meeting should focus on the topic at hand here and now. Discussions or uncertainties that come up during a meeting should be made note of and tabled for a follow-up meeting. The time set out should be used for addressing the meeting’s goal and agenda points and those should be more or less resolved at the end of the meeting. This will give meeting participants the motivation to make the most of the time available so that blockers can be resolved quickly and the project can continue making progress.

Use the time wisely

Tip 5: Keep things on track

Your meeting attendees should only consist of key stakeholders in the project. Not everyone needs to attend every meeting. However, those attending should be critical to achieving the meeting’s goal and should have the power to make decisions or the knowledge needed to clarify uncertainties. Every attendee should be given the opportunity to speak their mind and every question or point made should be addressed accordingly. You never know whose point or question will be valuable in the decision-making process.

However, it is easy for meetings to derail quickly and discussions to turn into chaos if multiple participants have differing opinions or if talks turn into arguments. This kind of meeting can easily turn into a waste of time for everyone and a source of frustration for future meetings.

The best way to keep a meeting on track is to have one person direct it, usually a project manager or team lead. This person can keep attendees calm, can direct discussions, and can ground arguments before they derail the rest of the meeting. An alternative is to establish basic meeting rules, such as using an item like a pen to identify a “speaker”, using common courtesy and respect in every meeting, and tabling discussions that require further information or decision-making for a later date.

Keep things on track

Tip 6: Every meeting should be actionable

A meeting is only as successful as the issues it resolves. If you’ve set a meeting goal, established an agenda, involved key participants, and adhered to timelines, every meeting you have should result in actionable results. The problems that have been resolved and the questions that have been answered should translate into actions that can be taken after each meeting.

Answering all of the questions on the agenda and achieving the goal of the meeting will result in key decisions being made to move the project forward. Make a note of all of the conclusions reached and assign post-meeting tasks to those who are responsible for them. This will ensure that participants stay engaged in the project and what has been achieved in the meeting will turn into actual actions that increase team productivity and get you closer to turning the project into a reality. Follow up on assigned tasks and hold additional meetings as necessary to keep the project moving forward.

Keep things on track

Tip 7: Use friendly communication

Meetings tend to be serious business, especially if you’re strictly adhering to goals and agendas. However, set a few minutes at the beginning and end of each meeting for some small talk, questions, and other chit-chat to keep a positive atmosphere and encourage a sense of team and relationship building. Humour is a great way to engage participants and lighten an otherwise serious discussion.

Always keep communication friendly, make attendees laugh or interact in positive ways, and acknowledge that meetings are still social interactions. Stay on track, but make room for the human element in each meeting.

Use friendly communication

Running effective meetings

The most essential part of making a meeting successful is beginning with a clear understanding of why it’s being held and how it’s necessary. Meetings should always be informative endeavours for the participants. They should guide all stakeholders in a unified direction and should detect and prevent possible problems from occurring. Every meeting should be an exercise in improving communication between team members and stakeholders and each meeting should result in clear, actionable tasks to keep the project on the right track.

To hold a successful meeting, you and the other participants must be well-prepared and in a good mood. Set a clear goal, ask for agenda points from other participants, and decide what results you want to see at the end of the meeting. Don’t forget to assign tasks and to be a respectful, engaged team member in every meeting.

We hope that our best practices have shown you how to run an effective meeting. For additional effective meeting tips and tricks to help you host a participative meeting or for help with a project of your own, please feel free to contact us!

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