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How to prepare for a successful team meeting

How to prepare for a successful team meeting

Prepare a meeting by setting a clear agenda, inviting relevant participants, and establishing objectives. Limit discussions, enforce phone etiquette, and use collaborative tools for note-taking. Begin with an icebreaker, assign a timekeeper, and encourage active engagement.

Crafting a Purpose-Driven Agenda

One of the factors that influence efficiency of any meeting is its agenda. Indeed, crafting a relevant and appropriate agenda ensures that the time will be used properly and the objectives of the meeting will be met fully. Therefore, a number of the aspects that should be taken into consideration while planning a meeting and its objectives will be discussed in the present paper.

Defining Objectives of the Meeting

Start with defining the objectives and goals of the meeting. It may not necessarily be in lines with the literal meaning as creating the final version of a budget for the next quarter within the first 30 minutes of the meeting, but be sure to express all objectives in a SMART way: specific, measurable, achievable or actionable, relevant or appropriate, and time-bound It helps to create a certain sense of purpose and identify the direction, which should be followed during the meeting.

Selecting Key Topics and Assigning Timelines

Select the list of the key topics, which can be discussed in order to achieve the objective of the meeting. Basically, the list of the agendas can be set according to the objectives. After that, assign the timeline for each of the topics, ensuring that there is enough time to cover the issue but not too much in order not to overload the agenda. For example, lengthen it by 10% if the issue is expected to spark a great number of discussions. The latter aspect may well be stressed: it is important to allow some space for open discussion. For these purposes, approximately the last 10-15% of the total quantity of time can be devoted to a free Twitter-like discussion where they can raise their concerns and discuss them in a free manner.

Establishing effective leadership rotation

Implementing a leadership rotation strategy can greatly improve the dynamic of a team and distribute their responsibilities more evenly. With the focus and responsibility on different individuals, this approach ensures that different perspectives are considered and no specific individual is burdened with decision-making.

Choose the right meeting leader

When choosing a leader for a meeting, one should consider the person’s ability to communicate and organize the conversation and their competency in understanding the objective of the team. The team leader should assume a more neutral stance, ensuring that several voices are heard and avoiding to dominate the conversation. Moreover, the role should be rotated among team members, further promoting shared ownership and developing leadership competencies across the team.

Responsibilities that exceed the control over agenda

The responsibilities of the meeting leader exceed their control over the agenda of the interaction. They should also navigate their team through the process of decision-making, encourage thinking outside the box for creative solutions, and, when necessary, manage conflicts. Moreover, the leader should carefully direct the decision-making process and draw converging conclusions without adding too much personal bias into the decision.

The power of leadership diversity

Diversity in leadership allows implementing a multitude of experiences, ideas, and approaches to problem-solving for a team. Through establishing leadership rotation between multiple individuals with effective leadership skills, the team encourages wider perspectives, which, in turn, lead to more innovative decisions. In addition, this approach prevents the concentration of power and promotes the idea of fairness and sharing among the team. Overall, by carefully implementing leadership rotation, a team can ensure that all meetings are well-controlled, objectives are met, and no member is sidelined from their decision-making process.

Balancing information sharing and collaboration

The ability to find the right balance in sharing information and encouraging collaboration is vital for every collaborative group. It is required to ensure the effectiveness of meeting sessions and to make sure that each participant contributes to the common objectives maintaining attention.

Differentiating between reporting and working sessions

The primary factor affecting the necessity to balance information sharing and collaborative efforts is the capacity of the activity as reporting or working. Accordingly, the period of circulating each type should be differentiated considering the individual or department. Informing everyone for only 10 minutes about the updates is not productive, but in case the individual or team is preparing for a work session, the time spent can reach 20 minutes or more. Accordingly, the provided materials include pieces of information that will be discussed during the forthcoming meeting, such as possible strategies and solutions.

Pre-meeting information circulation

The circulation of the relevant information before the meeting is crucial as it ensures that all participants have a dynamic discussion without attempting to share the details that they discovered with each other. As a rule, reports, updates, or the results of some research conducted should be sent to all members at least 24 hours before the meeting begins. This period can ensure that the information gets reviewed by all members of the team, meaning that many things will not have to be over explained again. Moreover, before the meeting, one can also seek to address several members to request the required clarification and already instigate some sort of brainstorming.

The dynamics and collaboration of the meeting

Finally, the constant balance between information sharing and collaboration can be maintained if dynamic discussion is encouraged. It means that there should be group assignments and tasks that will be solved together. For example, during virtual meetings, team members can break into virtual teams or in case of the face-to-face meeting, there can be special team efforts at the work stations. The minimum time, during which the audition should collaborate, is 30%. It will allow maintaining everyone’s interest and focus during the meetings. In such a way, the amount of time spent on reporting the results should be minimized, and the balance can be achieved through team discussions and possible solutions helping to be more effective and fast in making decisions that will benefit the collaborative group.

Streamlining Meeting Participants

Meetings cannot function efficiently without the right participants. Streamlining who should and should not attend a meeting enables a productive discussion and respect for time on the part of the present employees.

Criteria for Inclusion

When deciding who should be included, create clear criteria based on the meeting’s context. In other words, specify the goals of the meeting in question and determine the necessary people based on it. If the purpose of the meeting is to finalize a project’s plan, the rational course of action is to include the project manager and team leads. However, other team members whose areas of responsibility are not directly related to these discussions, should be excluded.

The Issue of Over-inviting

Over-inviting can lead to a range of problems, including inattentiveness and plan changing. Limit the number of attendees to 7-10 people, since any more than this number is counterproductive in terms of focus. If more employees require inclusion, do the math: most of them only need to know the results of the meeting, which can be addressed through summary meetings, which can be, in turn, replaced with emails.

Remote Inclusion and Engagement Equality

When remote employees attend a meeting, their inclusion must be done effectively and with equally playing field. Use tools and technologies that have the potential to offer the same opportunity for remote participation. For instance, online Zoom meeting via Skype are popular because they can guarantee that every meeting attendees regardless of the location have a video, chat, and shared screen button. Most importantly, include a clear-cut rule for remote inclusion: for instance, employ a “raise hand” function for speaking, to ensure that distance workers are not lost in the discussion.

Punctuality and Time Management

To a great extent, the success of a meeting depends on meaningful, effective time management and, subsequently, punctuality of the employees. Instead of informal discussion, these strategies guarantee focused discussions and, as a result, corresponding results.

Meeting schedule and agendas

Adhering to the schedule is very essential to win the respect and attention of all the participants. Start and end the meetings on time. An article by Harvard Business Review explains that starting a meeting within two minutes of the scheduled time will enable productivity of up to 20%. Tell all the participants the beginning and ending times of the meeting and be an example to others in being at the right time. Prioritize the agenda focusing on the most critical ones. Allocate more time for such points having in mind that the discussions will be deeper and there may be need to make decisions. For example, if there is a major project proposal in the agenda, allocate it in the morning when the participants are more alert and allocate at least 30 min for the presentation and discussion.

Using tools and techniques with time

The tools and techniques that can be used for timekeeping can help the leader whether the meetings are not deviating from the schedule. A person can be designated to monitor the time taken for each agenda point and warn the chair when the discussions on the point take longer than what is scheduled. In some discussions, it is better to apply a timer or a stopwatch. Another method that can be used so that the meetings do not stray from the road of the objectives can be using what is called “pareto rule”. This rule stipulates that 20% of the initial discussions cover 80% of the important points to be discussed. Leaders should therefore never try t0 dig deeper into the arguments taken in the meetings. All these and other tools and techniques support the punctuality of the leader in the meetings and effective planning. If meetings are planned effectively to maximize the useful time while spotting times for necessary breaks, the productivity and engagement of the participants can be raised. This ensures successful outcomes of the meetings and creates respectful and professional perspectives towards others. Another way of increasing the effectiveness of the meetings is to get feedback from the participants and apply them systematically in the management of the meetings.

creating meeting summaries

Applying Methods to Gain Participant Insights

If you want to gain any insight, implement an anonymous survey after each meeting. Ask specific questions, such as whether the participants found the agenda clear, pertinent, and accurate. Ask about the perceived outcomes of the discussion and the purpose of the meeting. Use tools such as Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to streamline the surveys. Using the proceeds of these surveys, you can keep improving your meetings by incorporating new suggestions.

Methods to Improve Meetings Continuously

Divide the responses to the surveys and feedback into categories, which yield actionable improvements. For example, consider whether the teams’ meetings settled all score conflicts and whether they guided the participants to find and reuse published artifacts. During the following meetings, try using new forms of preparation, such as visual aids, or other ways of introducing the topics. After each meeting and after the survey, communicate the changes immediately. The participants have the right to know what has transformed in the process and why it happened because they suggested it in the first place.

Strategies for Your Own Team

Remember that no two teams are the same and, therefore, a one-size-fits-all solution to gathering feedback and continuous meeting improvement does not exist. If your team functions in a presence culture, hold a short retrospective after each meeting and focus on what was good and what needs improving. If your team leans towards the written culture, prepare an open Google Document for the purpose of collecting feedback, and share it with the team. To conclude, by actively gathering and using feedback on your meetings, you assure your team that their opinion matters, and they are helping to shape the effectiveness of your collaborative efforts.

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