Team meetings can be a valuable tool, but to conduct a productive meeting, you need a plan. If you are the team leader, you will play the largest role in determining how effective team meetings are. Follow the tips in this article to make your meeting engaging and productive for all team members.
What is a team meeting?
A team meeting is an opportunity for team members to brainstorm, share updates, solve problems and provide feedback to each other. Some team meetings include all the employees in a department, like the sales team or the marketing department, while others focus on a specific project and everyone working on it. The meeting will be led by whoever is responsible for managing the team, such as the department head or project manager.
The logistics of a team meeting will vary depending on the needs of the team. For instance, meetings may be held daily, weekly or at other intervals. They could be held in an on-site conference room or conducted remotely via online video calls. Regardless of the specifics, an effective team meeting requires planning and active participation from all team members.
How to lead an effective team meeting
Follow these steps to conduct an effective team meeting:
1. First, evaluate past meetings
If your team has already met, ask yourself what worked at past meetings and what didn’t. Consider things like how engaged the team members were, whether the meeting was productive and how much you were able to discuss.
If this is your team’s first meeting, think about other meetings you have attended in the past. Which aspects of those meetings do you want to replicate, and which do you want to improve on?
2. Second, choose a date, time and place
Finalize the logistics of your meeting. Decide when, where and how it will take place. For example, you might choose to conduct it remotely via a conference call, or you may be able to schedule an in-person meeting. For daily meetings, consider whether the beginning or end of the day will work best for your team. For weekly meetings, pick a day that works for everyone.
3. Third, develop and distribute an agenda
A meeting agenda is pivotal. Part of the agenda can and should be fixed. For instance, you may want to start every meeting by checking in with members. Other parts will vary as your team encounters new challenges or progressing through the project. Make sure you distribute the agenda ahead of time so that members have an opportunity to suggest additions.
4. Fourth, set rules and stick to them
Take the time to discuss the rules for your meetings, then make sure you follow them. If you schedule a one-hour meeting, make sure it’s done within an hour. Consider setting rules regarding cell phones, punctuality, confidentiality and discussion. Let members know they can and should hold the team accountable for following the rules.
5. Fifth, allow members to contribute
In addition to whatever items make it onto your official agenda, leave room for an unstructured discussion at the end of the meeting. During this time, give everyone the opportunity to share their ideas. This shouldn’t be the only time that team members contribute, but it is a good opportunity for them to bring up anything that hasn’t already been addressed or voice new thoughts on past topics.
6. Sixth, keep things interesting
Look for ways to change up the format and content of your meetings. A little variety can help keep members engaged. For instance, you could bring in a guest speaker once a month or let members take turns leading the discussion. You could change up the location, host a holiday party, bring snacks, do a team-building activity or watch a video that ties into your meeting agenda.
7. Last, follow up and ask for feedback
After the meeting, send out a summary of what was discussed. Be sure to include any decisions that were reached, responsibilities that were assigned or follow-up actions that need to be taken before the next meeting. Take this opportunity to ask team members for feedback, too. Look for ways to improve the experience for everyone and increase the effectiveness of meetings.
Tips for participating in a team meeting
Here are a few tips that can improve the effectiveness of a team meeting:
Arrive on time. Not only does arriving on time keep you looking professional, but it also helps you ensure you don’t miss any important discussions.
Employ active listening. During a team meeting, nonverbal active listening skills are key. Examples include eye contact, nodding and smiling. When others are talking, show respect by avoiding unnecessary movement. Refrain from sighs, pen tapping, doodling and checking your phone.
Take notes. If you think of something you need to say while someone else is talking, jot down a quick reminder. That way you can keep listening and avoid interrupting without forgetting something important. You may also want to write down any decisions made, any tasks you are assigned and follow-up actions you need to take.
Be clear, concise and courteous. When it is your turn to speak, be as clear and concise as possible. This will help hold others’ attention, reduce the chance of misunderstandings and keep the meeting on schedule. Be courteous and professional, mimicking the tone you would use in a business memo or office email.
Add your perspective. Whether you agree or disagree with someone else in the meeting, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your opinion. To make sound decisions, your team needs the information and perspective that each participant can bring.
Between instant messaging, email and the myriad apps and software designed to facilitate team collaboration and task management, it’s easy to assume that regular team meetings are no longer needed. However, team meetings are still a valuable tool when done properly.