Organizing a meeting with your team is a great way to problem-solve, collaborate, and make group-based decisions; however, the point of sitting down together may be moot if the meeting itself is ineffective or inefficient. If a meeting is to be the best use of everyone’s time, then it should be used to convey information, answer questions, brainstorm ideas/problem solve, network, or sell a product, idea, or service.
Before gathering the team for a meeting, you should determine if it’s necessary to sit down together at all. Prior to scheduling and organizing, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I booking this meeting?
- What do I want to accomplish during this meeting?
- What information and/or decisions will be exchanged within the group?
- Who needs to attend in order to get their input and/or decisions?
Once these objectives are defined, you can then decide if a sit-down meeting is the best way to reach the individual(s) you need. If not, there are many methods of communication that could be used, such as a quick phone call, virtual conference meeting, or even through email.
If you are moving forward with a meeting, it’s important to plan for structure and purpose. Prepare an agenda and provide it to the participants ahead of time so they can prepare to participate as needed. Review everyone’s calendars to ensure you are booking a time and location that best matches everyone’s needs, as well as the objective of the meeting itself. For example, a meeting about downsizing the company should be held in a private conference room or offsite, while a sales meeting could be held at the client’s location for their convenience.
During the meeting, it’s important that the facilitator keep the discussion on track while making sure everyone gets a chance to add to the conversation. Be sure to follow the Agenda as an outline, summarize relevant points, and start and end on time. You can also use the following tips to ensure the meeting remains effective for all those involved:
- Depending on the type of meeting or the objective(s) at hand, try to establish some ground rules with participants: focus on interests and not positions; be realistic when accepting follow-up tasks; be respectful of other viewpoints; stay on task; etc.
- Write down any valuable ideas that arise but may be unrelated to the topic at hand, and review after the meeting. Not only will these ideas be stored for future consideration, but they will also help you stay focused on agenda items.
- Bring food! Food energizes and motivates people more than most other meeting tactics. If you’re expecting a longer than normal meeting, bring in snacks like fruit, cookies, muffins, or juice/coffee.