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6 tips on how to manage meetings

6 tips on how to manage meetings

Set a clear agenda and distribute materials in advance, start on time, assign roles, manage discussions, encourage participation, and review meeting practices regularly.

Set a Clear Agenda

An effective meeting is usually preceded by a clear and detailed agenda that serves as a roadmap for the upcoming discussion. Many points may be up for consideration, and some may be more important than others, but it is a good practice to clearly define what is going to be talked about. The purpose, along with other topics, should be written down.

Define Objectives

First, identify what exactly the subject of the meeting will be. Will it be decision-making, brainstorming, or obtaining updates on a specific matter? Every item on the agenda will follow the objective established. This way, it is less possible that a minor issue will suddenly get the most attention for a long time and not leave time for the key activities.

List Topics

I would make a point and briefly describe each issue that would be discussed at a meeting. It is also wise to estimate the time at this point, so that, for example, it is clear how many minutes are expected to address the status of the project, give feedback, and make decisions. It helps to make sure conversations are brief and get to the point faster.

Appoint Leads

Every person who is listed as an agenda “host” must prepare in advance and conduct the discussion at his point. The lead is not responsible for all aspects of the question but will be able to provide the general context and support further discussion in the area. Choosing leaders, I assign responsibility and ensure the participation of different team members.

Distribution of agenda

Discussion items should be listed on the agenda together with any other documentation and pre-reading provided for participants not later than 24 hours before the onset. Many participants will be able to prepare better using them, so the conversation will be of higher quality and will move much quicker. I am orderign a higher quality of participation in the meeting by asking people to prepare.

Review the Attendee List

To best pick the attendees for your next business meeting, you should optimize who really needs to attend, as well as who might be able to attend remotely. Starting by scrutinizing the list of attendees makes it more likely that the meeting will be as productive as possible, without extra bureaucracy present.

Identify key stakeholders

Identify those stakeholders that have a vested interest in contributing to the topics on the meeting’s agenda. They should have a direct impact on the results, thus ensuring effective decision making and implementation.

Evaluate the addition of each member

Consider what each member might bring to the table. This includes the relevant expertise, the role in the project, possible contributions to the attached goals, etc. Only create room for those that can deliver a meaningful comment or those who you need for eventual approvals.

Limit to essential persomel

Also, for a shorter and, in general, more effective meeting, limit the number of attendees to those who are essential. Having only a small group of attendees helps reduce distractions and ensures that discussions are concise. It also helps keep everything in context, while the presence of too many people might only reduce clarity. While some of the attendees might not need to be present virtually, they could be called into the discussion on certain points of the agenda via video conferencing.

Communicate nine-to-five staff with each participant

Once the list is prepared, make sure to communicate with each invitee exactly why they were included and what they are expected to do during the meeting. This could be anything from leading a discussion to following the instruction of being mere observers.

Regular updates and confirmations

Lastly, make sure to always send out calendar invitations as soon as the list of invitees is completed, and send out reminders the day before the event. Also, remember that whoever needed to be remote should be kept aware of their role.

Keep the Meeting Focused on the Agenda

Having an agenda is the first necessary step in making a meeting efficient and productive. Another important step is sticking to it, to ensure that a discussion does not go astray onto topics that are irrelevant at the time. Here is a list of steps to keep every meeting within an agenda, saving everyone’s time and contributing to more efficient outcomes:

Pre-meeting brief

Send a brief reminder to every meeting attendee about the topics on the agenda. It will help participants to mentally prepare for it and get any necessary documents or other data.

Set ground rules at the very beginning

Quickly go over the meeting agenda at its start, and present a rough structure for discussions: for example, tell how much time you are ready to allocate for each point, and how questions should be asked – for example, that they should be asked at the end of each presentation. This way, you will give a structure to this disagreement and set clear expectations for everyone regarding their participation.

Assign a timekeeper

Make someone responsible for informing how long the discussion on each point has already taken. The timer should warn the meeting when it is five minutes till the end and notify right away when it is time to switch. A site called Akvo offers advice not to trust reports of how much time has truly passed, and to ensure you have another person tasked with that.

If something irrelevant is brought up: parking lot it

If someone gets lost in a discussion and goes off the relevant topic, make notes in a parking lot. Tell the site when that will be considered later, and move on. This way, irrelevant ideas or questions are acknowledged, but do not derail the discussion.

Regular check-ins

While a discussion is ongoing, remind yourself to periodically check how much this aligns with an agenda and points that should be discussed at this time. If you notice that this is not the case, simply point it out and tell where the discussion should move.

At the end of each item, reflect on the discussion

When you are done discussing each specific point, take a couple of minutes to think about what has been said and confirm any decisions or actions. It will serve as a way to reflect on how the meeting has been productive, and will serve to ensure that everyone leaves the same room with the same understanding of what was discussed.

Encourage Participation and Be Sensitive

Creating an inclusive and sensitive environment during a meeting can greatly improve engagement and make discussions more dynamic. Therefore, each participant must feel appreciated and heard.

Introduce the Tone

Begin the meeting by pointing out the diversity of perspective that everyone brings to the discussion and stress that each individual’s point of view is important. You can set the accommodating tone through gently expressing that you are there to hear each voice and respond accordingly.

Ensure Equal Sharing

Use a round-robin format or similar method to ensure that every participant gets to share their thoughts. This way, strong personalities have less space to monopolize the discussion. Moreover, if the respondent is characterized by timidness, make sure to address that person specifically. No contribution should go unnoticed.

Utilize Technology

In online meetings, use the interactive tools available to you, such as polls or brainstorming sessions. Generally, such tools are useful to create a sense of activity and often loosely structured so that everyone can use them for contribution. They can also be used as a fun break from a classic, more serious meeting while creating additional activities for each participant.

Respond positively

When someone shares a thought or concern, ensure to respond positively and attract the person’s attention. Expressions like “that’s a good point” or “thank you for bringing that up” can make a person feel appreciated and noticed. This behavior is also linked to creating a positive and mutually accommodating atmosphere.

Monitor Signs of Exclusion

Try to be attentive to body language and even tone of voice – such features can express a sense of exclusion and discomfort. If you feel that someone feels this way, perhaps it would be a good idea to address the group and somehow alter the current discussion. Finally, call this person apologizedly and do your best to ensure that the next meeting flows smoothly.

Follow up

After the meeting, a good practice is to follow up on the participant’s point. Such action includes sharing the created project or simply thanking the person for sharing their thoughts.

Clarify, Check, and Record

One key to effective meeting management is to manage the mode of conversation to meticulous detail, both in terms of clarification, checking and recording of what happens throughout the meeting to ensure accountability and effective action. Here are the steps:

Clearly Establish Objectives

Start each meeting with a clear statement of objectives or expected outcomes. Clearly state the points to be the focus of the meeting to prevent unnecessary or unproductive conversation. Ensure that the main points are clearly stated.

Use Active Listening and Clarification

Encourage active listening by asking a randomly selected participant to summarize key points at the end of each point of discussion. Moreover, ask participants to clarify their statements to prevent misunderstanding and ensure that the contributions are properly documented. Also, ask the participants to elaborate on their points to ensure understanding by all.

Use Real-Time Documentation

Assign a person to make real-time discussion and decision documentation. Use tools such as notepad or shared document where all the participants can see what is being documented as it is being documented. Ensure that tasks and responsibilities assigned are properly stated, including specific timelines.

Check for Agreement

Before proceeding to the next point of discussion or the next decision, check for agreement. You can do this wither through s simple “yes” or “no” for physical meetings or through polling or reactions icon for virtual meetings. Ensure that you have agreement prior to proceeding to prevent misunderstandings.

Record and Distribute Minutes

After conducting the meeting, facilitate the recording of the minutes and ensure that the minutes are finalized and distributed to all participants and relevant others. Do this within one day so the momentum is not broken, and that tasks are not delayed.

At each subsequent meeting, allot a few minutes at the start to review the minutes of the previous meeting and have participants comment on its status. Not only does this ensure proper accountability but also opportunity to reflect and adjust.

End the Meeting on Time

To keep productivity and respect the time of all participants who need to go after the session, one should know how to finish meetings on time. Below, the steps that will assist are given.

Time Track

At the very beginning of any session, put a timer that will inform you of the end of the meeting five or ten minutes before it actually finishes. This warning gives you time to wrap up things and start closing procedures.

Time Allocation

When you prepare the agenda for the meeting, allocate the time wisely. Think of the most useful period which will be enough to discuss the issue and move on to the next which is as important. By turning a critical eye to the essence of your conversation, you reduce the likelihood of its dragging on. Follow those items and regularly check how much time is left. Should the pace be too high or too slow, adjust everything.

Decide on Priorities

If you see that you have a lack of time, make sure to approach the most important items on the agenda. You should have enough time to summarize them, and the rest could be also briefly resumed being postponed for discussion at the future session or some additional materials you will send.

Summarize

In the last minutes of your sitting, make sure to shortly summarize the key points you have discussed. Make certain to name the proposed decisions and repeat the action items, stating who should do what. Say that this has been already accomplished, and let the participants talk one more time as short as they can.

Review and Close

Let the member have their final words and close the meeting, saying that you want to thank everyone for their contribution to this session.

 

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