Across every level of every organisation, meeting planning is an important skill to have.
Whether you’re a newcomer who’s been tasked with organising meetings because no one else wants to do so, or if you’re a team leader who uses meetings to get your teams up-to-date and pumped up to meet targets – there’s no doubt that being able to run effective meetings will get you (and your team) places.
We’ve spoken to experienced meeting planners and these are their top tips for setting up (and running) meetings that are efficient, effective and terrifically engaging.
Plan an agenda, then announce it
One of the most commonly-seen issues with meetings is that they are haphazardly put together, with no plan or objective. We’ll all been to those “weekly update meetings” that bore participants and don’t really drive any project forward – so if this is what’s happening with your meetings, stop and be sure to plan an agenda with very clearly defined objectives.
Next, remember to announce your agenda and objectives, so everyone is aligned and knows what’s expected. After all, there’s no point in planning pinpoint objectives if no one else knows what they are.
Stick to the schedule!
Some experts say that if a meeting lasts for over 30 to 45 minutes, it’s an ineffective meeting. While we’re willing to be a little more flexible with that time limitation, you can bet that if your meetings are commonly 2 to 3 hours long – as many corporate meetings are – you’re probably spending too much time on unnecessary chatter or distractions.
Assign one person (perhaps yourself) to keep a strict lookout for such detours during the course of your discussions. Whenever the meeting begins to stray off-topic, it will be this person’s responsibility to remind everyone of the agenda and objectives – then guide the meeting back on course.
Set rules and enforce them
At some point, you’ll want to set rules for your meetings. Instead of coming up with a list of 20 “DOs and DON’Ts”, we recommend keeping your list of rules short and simple – and tailored specifically to address the issues you commonly face with particular groups of participants.
Are your managers and executives constantly checking their phones and not giving their 100%? Consider creating a rule that requires all phones to be on airplane mode the moment a meeting starts. You can create other rules for use of laptops, taking breaks, asking questions and more.
Engage with technology
Connect with participants and encourage them to participate by using technology that’s specifically designed to raise engagement and activity levels. One of the latest – and certainly the easiest to use – solutions is Angage.live.
Using Angage.live (or technology like event apps), participants can interact with event organisers and presenters by typing their questions, comments and answers into the platform (along with a host of other actions). Best of all, Angage.live can be accessed via any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
Always leave with follow up actions
This is perhaps the most crucial – and often left out – part of any meeting. If there’s one difference between ineffective “just another update session” meetings and highly effective, action-driven meetings, it’s that excellent meetings always drive things forward – whether it’s a project, event, targets, or anything else.
And leaving participants with follow up actions is an important part of driving your business forward after every meet-up. Be sure to leave at least 5 to 10 minutes at the tail end of every meeting to discuss everyone’s “next steps” – it’s one of the biggest keys to organising engaging, effective meetings.