Love them or hate them, meetings are a part of our work life. We’ve all experienced bad meetings, some of us may have set up and run bad meetings. But, there are some simple things we can all do to make our meetings better. Check out the 11 quick tips to have great meetings below and see what a difference it makes.
- Have a clear purpose.
- Know the output you want.
- Only invite people who contribute to the output.
- Pick the right format.
- Write a great invitation.
- Use the invitation as the introduction.
- Thank the partial participants.
- Track the progress to the output.
- Close with a summary.
- Minutes are the output plus actions and decisions.
- Say what happens next.
1. Have a clear purpose
Meetings without a clear purpose cannot be successful. If you have a clear purpose, people will show up to your meeting. They will also be engaged and feel like they contributed to something valuable.
2. Know the output you want
A meeting without an output is just a conversation. Meetings should produce something useful. The output might be a decision, a list of ideas, or a group of people who learned something new. Whatever you need from the meeting, makes sure you know the output you want.
3. Invite people who contribute to the output
If someone isn’t contributing to the output you need, the meeting is wasting their time. When creating a participants list, only include people who contribute to the output. If someone need the output, but they aren’t part of creating it, don’t invite them. Just send them the output afterwards.
4. Pick the right format
The format of the meeting must help achieve the purpose. The wrong format makes it harder to get the output you want from the meeting. Make sure you think about the best activities to support the creation of the output you want.
5. Write a great invitation
The meeting invitation sets up your meeting for success. It tells people why you are asking them to give their time. The meeting invite shows what a successful meeting looks like because the output is defined. It also helps people compare the meeting against other things happening at the same time.
6. Use the invitation as the introduction
Having written a great meeting invitation you can use it to start the meeting. If your invitation includes a clear purpose and output you can read this as the introduction. It’ll help get people on the same page and all focused on what they need to do in the meeting.
7. Thank the partial participants
Some people will only contribute to part of the meeting but they need to attend for the whole time. This isn’t efficient, but it can’t always be avoided. When introducing a meeting, thank the people who are there the whole time but only involved in part of the meeting. This improves their engagement and lessens frustration at the inefficient use of time.
8. Track the progress to the output
At any point in your meeting you should know how much progress you’ve made towards the desired output. For example, if you need a list of 10 ideas and you don’t have five by the midpoint of the meeting you know you are not on track. Tracking progress to the output helps you adjust the approach in the meeting to get what you need on time.
9. Close with a summary
Ending a meeting well is just as important as starting it well. People need to leave knowing they have accomplished something valuable. The easiest way to do this is to close the meeting with a summary of what you all did. The summary should focus on the desired output, if it was achieved, and what will happen next.
10. Minutes are output, actions and decisions
Meeting minutes don’t have to be long. Minutes shouldn’t be a complete transcript of the meeting. The simplest way to have effective minutes is to use the output. The output is what you set out to create, so that is the minutes. In addition you can add any actions and decisions.
11. Say what happens next
Meetings are usually part of something bigger: they are part of a project, a series of tasks, or something else. When you end a meeting you should let people know what happens next. Say what the meeting output will enable, or what will happen to it now. Say what actions will be taken and who has tasks to do. A meeting is rarely the end of the work. And when attendees know what happens next it is easier to see the value of the time spent in the meeting.
There you have it, 11 quick tips to have great meetings. Every one of these can improve your meeting. Use them all and you’ll have no trouble getting people to turn up, engage, and appreciate the meetings you run.
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