1. Send out the agenda well in advance
An efficient meeting begins with a comprehensive agenda. Creating the agenda should be a collaborative exercise, so request agenda items from the attendees. This will reduce the number of off-topic items that arise on the day, and your agenda should be a reflection of what everybody sees necessary to discuss.
Make sure you distribute the completed agenda well in advance for review by the team. It's important to give your team plenty of time to prepare for the agenda items that apply to them. One of the biggest time-wasters when it comes to team meetings is a lack of preparation. If the agenda has been given out with plenty of notice, there's really no excuse to be ill-prepared!
The agenda should answer the question: Why are we having a meeting? It should serve as your guide throughout the meeting to keep your discussion topics on track. Although it can be exciting when ideas start bouncing off the walls, the agenda is a reminder to reign it in and keep the conversation productive.
2. Hire a meeting room
The setting of your team meeting is really important. If you're in a noisy or stuffy environment, your attendees are likely to lose concentration. A comfortable, fresh setting with plenty of natural light is ideal for positive, productive discussion.
At THIS Workspace, meeting room credits are included in the membership costs, so businesses are encouraged to take their meetings outside of their office and into a setting designed specifically for professional discussion. THIS Workspace's meeting rooms are also available to hire to non-members and they can easily be booked through the website. Each meeting room is equipped with TV screens, high-speed internet and access to free tea and coffee.
Holding your meeting in the right environment sets the tone for the sort of meeting you want to achieve. No two meeting rooms are the same at THIS Workspace, so you are free to choose your meeting space based on the atmosphere that fits your agenda.
3. Review the attendees list
When sending out the meeting invites, make sure you review your attendees list - even if it is a regular meeting. Ask yourself, do they need to be there? Will they benefit from the discussion? Will the team benefit from their input?
Remember, time is money so if your team member could be more productive getting on with work outside the meeting, don't drag them along. It can be a huge waste of company resource to have someone in a meeting who isn't able to contribute or add value.
A good meeting is always followed by comprehensive minutes, so just because someone doesn't attend doesn't mean they will be left out of the loop.
4. Good minutes with clear action points
You should appoint one person to write and distribute minutes after the meeting. This is a really important job as it provides an opportunity for any misunderstandings to be flagged before any actions are taken. Every action point should be assigned to a person so everyone is clear on who is doing what.
It is best to write up minutes and send them out as soon as possible after the meeting while the discussion is still fresh in your mind.
5. Employ the "Parking Lot" technique
The "Parking Lot" technique is a brilliant way to ensure your meeting stays on track. Group discussion can often unearth multiple other topics and ideas which are important, but not relevant to your current meeting agenda. As a meeting leader, you need to identify whether or not it is valuable to discuss new points in that very moment.
If the answer is no, then you "park" the idea at the bottom of your notes, to be discussed in a future meeting. These should be added to the next meeting's agenda so they are raise appropriately and not "parked" again. This is a much better alternative to shutting down discussion, or losing your way and wasting meeting time.
New ideas and opinions from your team should always be encouraged, so make sure you carry out the "Parking Lot" with a positive attitude that won't prevent your team speaking out in the future.
6. Make sure everyone speaks
If you have thoroughly reviewed your list of attendees, everyone who attends the meeting should have something relevant and valuable to contribute. It is your responsibility as leader to make sure everyone's voice gets heard, and there isn't one person dominating the discussion. Naturally, some people feel more confident to speak than others but it should really be about who is adding value.
You should aim for fair and even discussion, and if these means directly asking quieter team members for their opinion that's okay! If you set the right tone and open atmosphere, everyone should feel comfortable enough to contribute.
7. Next meeting... start with reviewing the action points
There is no point writing up minutes, sending them out and then never looking at them again. An effective way to start a meeting is by reviewing the previous meeting's action points and annotating progress. This is not to catch anyone out, but it's a good habit to follow up on these points and have any changes or developments recorded.
It may also push your team to get their action points done so they can report on this in the meeting. Bonus!
There you go! With proper planning and the right environment, meetings can be the best way to collaborate with your team. If you'd like to take a look at the meeting rooms we have to offer, pop an email to email@example.com and we'll be happy to help.