Is that truly an important meeting? A quick guide to effective meetings
By Julian Lewis • July 28, 2023
The average corporate employee in the United States spends about 31 hours a month in meetings, according to recent research from Accounting Principals. While this number may seem high, it can also provide valuable insight into how we approach meetings and their impact on our productivity and performance.
So how can we become engaged meeting leaders and ensure that we are getting the most out of our time in meetings? Read on to learn how to run a meeting effectively.
The importance of effective meetings
Unfortunately, there are few people that do not understand the importance of meeting, and the feeling of squandering valuable time in meetings that accomplish nothing. Ineffective meetings are not only frustrating but also a serious drain on productivity.
Luckily, being an effective meeting participant or host doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. With the right mindset and some simple tips and tricks, you can transform even the most unproductive meeting into one that gets results.
Team meeting vs. one-on-one meetings
Understanding the meaning and importance of meetings, both team meetings and one-on-one meetings, is fundamental for any organization aiming for success. The two main kinds of meeting, team meetings and one-on-one meetings, both have their benefits, but there are a few key differences.
The purpose of team meetings is to include the whole team, giving everyone the opportunity to come together and share ideas. They can be helpful for problem-solving, and for getting everyone on the same page. However, they can also be chaotic and unproductive if not managed well.
One-on-one meetings are more personal and focused on one team member at a time. They're a great way for managers to share feedback with direct reports, or for employees to discuss ideas and any concerns they may have. They can also be helpful for developing relationships and trust within a team, as well as facilitating professional development.
Why are effective team meetings important?
A well-run, useful meeting can help team members stay connected and focused on their goals, as well as improve overall team dynamics, while a poorly run team meeting can waste time and cause frustration.
To ensure that they are running an effective staff meeting, it is important for a manager to be prepared and organized. By prioritizing this goal, you can help your team work together more cohesively and enjoy the following benefits within the organization.
Effective team meetings can help any manager improve open communication within a company or organization. Advantages of meetings include increased productivity, improved decision-making, and enhanced employee morale.
Meetings are a great way to ensure that everyone is up-to-date with regard to upcoming projects, goals, and objectives. Types of meetings include brainstorming sessions, problem-solving meetings, and status updates. They can also help to resolve any disputes or misunderstandings that may have arisen since the last team meeting.
Boost in productivity
Another common effect of more effectual meetings is a boost in productivity. After all, if people are able to accomplish more in less time, they will have more free time to devote to other responsibilities and improve their performance. This can also help reduce stress since it eliminates the need to constantly scramble and juggle tasks.
First, let's identify what establishing alignment looks like. This means that everyone is on the same page, with a clear understanding of the objectives and goals. Without this essential step, it's nearly impossible to achieve anything productive.
However, with effective meeting strategies, you can ensure that everyone is in alignment. For example, using effective communication techniques and setting clear expectations from the start can help to set the stage for productive discussions. Additionally, you should encourage participation from all participants and actively listen to their suggestions and constructive criticisms.
Facilitates creative thinking and innovation
By allowing people to contribute their opinions and expertise, meetings can help foster an atmosphere of innovation and creativity for your employees. Whether you’re looking to brainstorm new ideas, gain fresh perspectives on existing challenges, or simply build better relationships with your colleagues, a well-executed meeting can help set the stage for success.
A medium for feedback and continuous improvement
Another advantage of team meetings is that they provide a space for teams to talk freely, inspiring feedback and continuous improvement. This means that attendees can bring up any concerns or suggestions they may have, and work together with others to find a solution or improve the process of the meeting itself. Whether it’s a suggestion on how to handle time constraints, improve communication between employees, or simply change the way the meeting agenda is structured, having some flexibility and willingness to adapt can make all the difference.
When it comes to effective team meetings, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that everyone feels included and has a chance to contribute. This means actively listening when others are speaking, asking questions to get clarification if needed, and offering your own thoughts or ideas when appropriate. Fostering this type of open dialogue will not only help you learn more about the topic or project at hand, but it will also promote a diverse and inclusive culture, allowing everyone to feel valued and respected.
Improves employee engagement
Over time you will also notice that efficient meetings can have a positive impact on employee engagement. Studies have found that workers who attend meetings that are run well and focused on concrete results tend to be more engaged, experience more satisfaction with their jobs, and display better performance than disengaged employees.
In addition, it has been shown that employees who take part in productive team meetings often feel more valued and appreciated by their managers. This can help build stronger relationships between employees and managers, resulting in better morale and higher levels of quality work in the organization.
How to improve meeting effectiveness
So if you are ready to be a successful meeting host, follow these simple tips on how to lead a meeting effectively:
Who should attend?
Make sure only the necessary co-workers attend the meeting. This prevents unnecessary distractions and ensures that the meeting is focused on the most important topics.
Determine action items
Before you schedule meetings, determine what you hope to accomplish. Are there any specific action items or goals that need to be addressed? Make sure you are ready to clearly articulated these points, so everyone is prepared to participate going into the meeting.
To prepare for the meeting, start by reviewing relevant materials and coming up with potential solutions or ideas for addressing any issues that may arise. This will help you better engage in discussions and offer feedback or contributions as needed.
Have a clear agenda
Arrange a time to meet and include your agenda in the meeting's calendar invite, you can help ensure that everyone attending is aware of the topics to be discussed and what needs to be accomplished. Additionally, including an agenda in your meeting materials will give participants a reference point throughout the discussion, so they know what topics have already been covered and which ones need further attention.
Set your schedule
At the start of your meeting, outline the agenda and how much time you intend to spend on each topic. This way participants will know what to expect and how long they have to discuss each item. If you're pressed for time or need to skip certain topics due to pressing deadlines, having a set timeline will help you and other employees keep the conversation focused on the most important items.
Whether you're looking for input from your teams about a new project or seeking feedback on an idea, giving participants the opportunity to share their opinions and ask questions will keep your meeting productive and ensure that everyone feels heard. Being face to face, either in-person or over webcam, typically creates the best environment to get the team talking and problem-solving. With these simple tips in mind, you can transform even the most unproductive meetings into ones that get results.
Why are one-on-one meetings important?
Kim Scott, the author of "Radical Candor", suggests that the most effective managers will not only set up ample time to communicate and meet regularly with their teams but also make sure that each meeting involves one-on-one conversations. When you prioritize meeting regularly with specific departments and individual team members, it will pay off in countless ways. Let's talk through the primary benefits:
Keep managers in the loop about issues
Regular one on ones keeps a manager informed about issues that may be bubbling up on their team. By being in regular contact with team members, a manager can stay on top of potential problems and address them before they become bigger issues. This also allows managers to get input from direct reports, so they can support the individual's career aspirations and make important decisions for the company in the future.
Help managers build candid work relationships
One of the most important benefits of one-on-one meetings is that they help build trust and rapport between you and your direct reports. By regularly checking in to discuss progress, challenges, successes, and career aspirations, you can create an open and honest environment in which your team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with you. This helps you get to know them on a personal level, fostering accountability and deeper connections between you and your employees.
Increase employee engagement and productivity
When employees leave a one-on-one meeting knowing that their contribution is valued and appreciated, it can have a huge impact on their engagement and employee productivity. This is because feeling valued helps employees feel motivated to improve performance and do their best work, instead of just going through the motions in order to get by.
Tips for running effective one-on-one meetings
If you'd like to improve meeting efficiency with direct reports in your business, try implementing one or more of the following approaches:
- Schedule weekly or biweekly meetings or annual performance reviews in advance.
- Stick to the agreed-upon meeting time limit.
- Come prepared with a clear agenda and any materials (including notes from the last meeting) that will be helpful to you or the other person.
- Meet face-to-face with the person, if possible
- Stay on topic and task.
- Take notes.
Recap: the importance of meeting management
Hosting a successful meeting is a challenge that all business professionals face at one point or another. In order to make sure your next meeting is successful, it’s important to take enough time beforehand to plan and organize what you want to achieve.
By following these simple meeting efficiency tips for team or one-on-one meetings, you can ensure that all employees in attendance walk away with a clear understanding of the objectives and next steps. Remember, it’s better for managers to cancel a meeting than have one that isn’t productive!
Read more about: Executive Coaching
About Julian Lewis
Julian Lewis is a driven and accomplished professional with a passion for driving positive change in the business world. He is the co-founder and COO at Zella Life.
His own experience as a professional of color in a Fortune 500 company led him to discover the limitations for advancement that many professionals like himself face. Determined to reach his full potential, Julian became an established business coach and entrepreneur, committed to supporting others in their pursuit of personal and professional growth.
Today, Julian is a recognized corporate trainer, coach, and leader, known for his ability to leverage real-life experiences and evidence-based methodologies to affect positive change within individuals and organizations. As the leader of Zella Life's coaching division, he is dedicated to empowering individuals and businesses to achieve their full potential.