How to Run a Meeting: 8 Effective Strategies
Our step-by-step guide explains how to properly plan, execute, and close a company meeting.
If you polled people about whether they enjoy spending their time in meetings, the majority would probably respond with an unequivocal “no.” But some meetings now and again are vital to furthering a company’s goals. They address problems and seek solutions, keep team members in the loop about company changes, and present a team’s performance. Meetings also provide an opportunity for team members to voice their concerns and share ideas.
Whether it’s your first time running a meeting or you want to make your meetings more productive, take some time to learn how to run a meeting effectively before sending that next invite.
1. Establish an Agenda and Clear Goals
Effective planning is key to knowing how to run a meeting. First, you should establish the agenda of the meeting. Think about why you need to meet in the first place. Once an agenda has been established, set clear goals for your time. Here are some ways to prepare:
- Make a list of topics and solutions to be discussed.
- Get input from other team members on establishing agendas and goals.
- Determine who will attend the meeting.
2. Prepare the Logistics
Whether it’s a seat shortage or a slideshow malfunction, the last thing you want is for an unexpected hitch to sabotage a meeting. Thinking through the technical aspects and logistics beforehand will keep the meeting running efficiently and reduce the number of hurdles you may encounter. To get started, try making a checklist of the following tasks to do before the meeting:
- Reserve a convenient place to hold the meeting.
- Gather any equipment or materials you’ll need.
- Ensure that there’s adequate seating and lighting.
- Arrive early to set up.
- Provide refreshments and nametags if necessary.
3. Send Meeting Invitations and Reminders
Invitations and reminders are crucial to making a meeting work. Your team members likely have other meetings to attend, tasks to complete, and deadlines to meet. They may not always remember to mark a meeting on their calendars while juggling busy schedules.
Make sure you send digital invitations to all team members, guest speakers, or anyone else you plan to invite to the meeting. You should also send reminders one day in advance and the same day, so invitees have plenty of time to prepare. You can use a number of tools to send invites and reminders, such as Google Calendar, Microsoft Teams, Calendly, or Taskworld.
4. Follow Your Schedule
Don’t make your team dread meetings that drag on into their lunch hour. Here are the best ways to ensure that meetings run on schedule:
- Send all invitees a reminder 15 minutes prior to the start time.
- Check in with speakers or team members who are presenting before the meeting.
- Make sure any material you plan to discuss can fit into one meeting.
- Consider scheduling a follow-up if you run out of time.
5. Encourage Participation and Brainstorming
Team participation and brainstorming are vital to solving problems and generating new ideas. Every team member you invite to a meeting has something of value to offer. It’s just a matter of getting them to speak up. Monster has plenty of tips on building leadership skills that can help you to motivate your team members. If you want to know how to run a meeting that encourages participation, consider using these strategies:
- Ensure that invitees know the meeting agenda in advance.
- Encourage invitees to prepare their own questions and concerns prior to the meeting.
- Leave plenty of time during the meeting for questions and comments.
- Create a non-judgmental and conversational atmosphere.
- Address silence during the meeting.
6. Add Some Tasteful Humor
Do you often see people dozing during meetings? Boring meetings yield little interest, conversation, or participation. When you add a little tasteful humor, you create a better rapport with your team members and actually help attendees retain more information. Want to know how to run a meeting that is fun and engaging? Consider these tips for adding humor:
- Make humor spontaneous and unexpected.
- Use humor sparingly so your meeting stays on topic.
- Keep humor tasteful and professional.
- Avoid humor that may be seen as offensive or derogatory.
- Don’t use humor to single anyone out.
7. Close With Clearly Defined Next Steps
Whether your meeting addresses a challenge or introduces a company change, make sure attendees know what comes next. The conversation that takes place at a meeting must translate to action.
Make sure that commitments, assignments, and deadlines are clearly stated at the end of the meeting. Write them down on a white board or present them digitally so attendees can take notes. If you have printed handouts with a list of next steps, make sure each attendee receives one.
8. Summarize the Meeting in an Email and Ask for Feedback
Lastly, it’s important to send a follow-up email to all attendees within 24 hours after the meeting to show your appreciation and keep the conversation going. This gives team members an opportunity to reflect on the topics discussed during the meeting. It also reminds them of any assignments they were given and their deadlines.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on how the meeting went and what can be done to make future meetings more efficient and engaging.
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