Effective Meetings - Part 2.5
Thanks for joining us for Part 2.5 of our "Effective Meetings" series. As we started to venture down a path focussed on sales meetings, I wanted to stop and address how we can make internal meetings more effective too.
When you receive a meeting invitation from certain co-workers, is your first reaction "here we go again"? This emotional reaction is often caused by a meeting request that has no title, no agenda and for some reason is scheduled on a Monday at 8 am or Friday at 4:45 pm.
We’ve all attended meetings where participants are unprepared, people veer off-track and the topics discussed are a waste of the team’s time. This issue and others often stem from a poor meeting agenda.
Some of the main causes of meeting anxiety are attendees:
aren't able to identify the goal of the meeting
don't know how long the meeting will last
don't know what to contribute so they can add value to the conversation.
Are we meeting bi-weekly just to meet bi-weekly?
Does the daily stand-up provide any value to me?
What was I supposed to do between our last meeting and this one?
In this article, we'll begin to delve deeper into the conversation and provide insight into what can be done to ensure that all parties understand and acknowledge the next steps and action items that came from the meeting.
Below are a few tips and tricks to design an effective agenda for internal meetings. Whether your meeting is for 5 or 55 minutes, these tips can help to ensure that all attendees understand the purpose, come prepared and understand their tasks to complete moving forward to help the team to reach their goals.
Invite the right attendees - Don't invite people who don't need to be involved. Simple, eh? Whether that be other departments or your manager, if you are organizing the meeting and you truly know what outcome you would like, make sure to bring the right people to the table to have the conversation that you want to have.
Ask your team members for their input - If you want your team to be engaged in meetings, make sure the agenda includes items that reflect their needs
too, Send an email asking if they would like any specific questions answered or if they have items to add. Also, ask them how much time they will need to discuss their section, and monitor the time during the meeting to keep it within a set timeline.
Set an agenda based on topics that affect your team - Meetings are expensive and difficult to schedule. This means that meetings should be used to discuss and make decisions on challenges that affect the whole team — and need the whole team to solve them. At a minimum, the challenges should be interdependent, especially if multiple departments are at the same table.
List agenda topics as questions the team needs to answer - In my experience, most agenda topics are phrases, for example: “Discuss Q4 goals” or "Marketing Update". The ambiguity leaves attendees wondering, “What aspect of Q4 goals are we going to discuss?” or "What update should I be prepared to discuss?" When you list a topic as a question (or questions) to be answered, it instead reads like this: “How close are we to reaching our Q4 Goals? What do we need to do to reach them?" or "Mailchimp Campaign: clicks and opens from new messaging- what did we learn?"
Be Prepared - Now that the attendees know and understand the topics that will be discussed, the objective of the meeting and the expected outcomes, take the time to research your area of contribution. As an example, a Customer Success Manager wants to discuss a software bug with the Quality Control Manager. The Customer Success Manager should communicate this clearly to the Q.C Manager before the meeting with some notes and examples to discuss. After the meeting, the Quality Control team can collaborate and provide relevant facts and figures to carry to their internal meeting. If preparation and proper communication is not done prior to the meeting, the lack of information will make the QC Manager waste much of their meeting time learning about the bugs or even become defensive by being blindsided by the customer feedback.
Estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic - Keep on task and on time. One of the worst things that can happen to an attendee who has sat through 55 minutes of a meeting and has been allotted the last 5 minutes to discuss their topics, is for the meeting to go too long or for a topic to be bumped to another date because the meeting moderator did not keep the time in check. Do some quick math and estimate how much time is needed for each topic. Ensure that the meeting moderator stays on task and on time.
Summarize Next Steps with a Follow-Up Email - Don't make this step too complicated. If there are next steps or action items, summarize them and send them to the team in point form.
Below you will find a Sample Meeting Agenda
Part three of our series is coming soon... stay tuned!
Vince Bowry is the Founder of Eduthink. For more information on our solutions, contact us.