We’ve all been part of a bad meeting. It drags on, no one is clear on what’s happening, and at the end your first thought is, “This could have been an email.” No one likes being a part of those meetings and no likes leading those meetings.
If you find yourself in a position where you’re running meetings, or you’re looking to shake up your current format, check out some of our tips below along with downloading our effective meeting planner.
4 Steps to Running an Effective Meeting
Step 1 – Create clear goals
The main question you should ask before even calling a meeting is “What are our goals?” If you can’t answer that, this can probably just go in an email. Goals can be anything from briefing the team on a new project, establishing next steps, or even a weekly check-in.
Ensure that everyone knows what the goals are and what they need to provide. No one should go into a meeting with no clue what’s happening or what’s going to be discussed. In that same vein, don’t put somebody on the spot to present data that they didn’t prepare. Email out the goals and agenda to all the attendees and then reach out to those specific few who will be presenting information.
Step 2 – Figure out who needs to be there
“Too many cooks spoil the broth.” It can be tempting to want to invite everyone in a department but keep meeting attendees to who needs to be there. Nothing can be more frustrating (or less productive) than trying to get feedback from someone who isn’t sure what’s going on. You don’t need to ask the entire sales department their ideas on new marketing campaigns.
Be sure this step also involves deciding who is the meeting “chairman” or leader of the meeting. This leader ensures that nobody overtakes the conversation and that all points on the agenda are gone over.
Step 3 – Everyone participates
Because you know all your attendees are there for a reason, make sure that everyone participates. This is especially important because men tend to speak over women during meetings. Give everyone a chance to speak, ask follow-up questions, and encourage ideas between all parties.
Another thing to look for is senior leaders trying to stronghold the conversation. Allow junior employees to speak up and share their thoughts. Encourage women and people of color to speak and make sure other meeting attendees don’t speak over them. We don’t improve if we keep hearing the same voices and meetings are an important place that changes are made.
Step 4 – End your meeting with actionable items
Don’t end your meeting without figuring out your action items. Figure out who’s responsible for what items and when the deadlines are.
“Shellye Archambeau, chief executive of MetricStream, a firm that helps companies meet compliance standards, likes to end her meetings by asking, “Who’s got the ball?”
“When you’re in sports, and the ball is thrown to you, then you’ve got the ball, and you’re now in control of what happens next,” she said. “You own it. It becomes a very visible concept for making sure that there’s actually ownership to make sure things get done.”
Send a follow-up email afterwards with meeting notes, responsibilities and (if needed) when the next meeting will be. This keeps everyone on the same page after the meeting and everyone understands the next steps.
No matter where you are in your career journey, being able to run an effective meeting is an essential skill everyone should have. Use these steps and our meeting template to build your confidence in your meeting skills. You can do it!