Meetings can be a bore, trust us we know. We’ve all sat there for hours in meetings that are poorly structured, unnecessarily long, and sometimes even completely useless. Not with this guide to how to run a productive meeting though!
We live in a world where meetings are more often than not held online, and hybrid is the new norm. No wonder people are pickier than ever with how they choose to spend their time. We used to get dressed, commute, and act professional every day. Now we want it to be worth it when we do. Don’t organise meetings that in the end won’t be efficient. You don’t want people to feel like they might as well have stayed at home in their dressing gowns. Instead, organise productive and even fun meetings that will leave attendees feeling happy and inspired.
We’ve curated these 5 simple steps toward more productive and effective meetings. Hopefully, they’ll help you assure your meetings hold the highest quality. No one will leave thinking ‘what was that all about?’.
Should we get started? Let’s!
1. Decide if You Actually Do Need a Meeting
This might seem obvious but before we go into the nitty-gritty of how to plan a meeting you should consider not having a meeting at all – yea we said it. The key rule is that nothing that could be resolved in a few emails should be a meeting. This, of course still isn’t the case for many meetings in the making. If it isn’t for you then, by all means, go ahead, meet away.
It’s usually more efficient to host brainstorming sessions, workshops, and meetings with a lot of people in person. In cases where you’re looking to spark creativity and collaborate, meeting in person is usually the answer you’re looking for. It’s also easier to encourage everyone to participate if you meet in person. We’ve all been ghosted on Slack and it doesn’t feel good.
It might also be the case that planning a meeting takes longer when people are in the office on different schedules. Make sure you check and double-check that everyone can participate. It might seem like a good idea to let a few people dial-in. It does take away some of the benefits of meeting in person when you do though and you might as well all be at home. Some meetings might even benefit from this as you cut out the hassle of planning to meet in person.
Okay now that you’ve decided that in-person is the one for you you’re ready for the actual planning of your meeting. This is the hard part but equally, the fun part, so take your time and make sure everything turns out as good as it has potential to be.
2. Think About the Meeting Space
We’re obviously biased but space truly is everything. Research shows that creativity can be increased by being in nature and although we don’t suggest you hold your meeting outside, we’d like to consider it as proof environment does matter.
Holding a meeting in a shabby little basement feeling more like a prison than an area for new exciting thoughts is not a good idea. You need room to breathe to come up with new innovations so go for a space that’s got enough room for all attendees. That being said you also don’t want to go with a meeting room hire that’s too big as it won’t create that intimacy that’s part of the reason we meet in person. Know beforehand how many people you expect to attend and handpick a venue that’s just the right size.
It might seem trivial but focus on finding a room with the right atmosphere, that’s maybe even a bit out there. If the surroundings are inspiring you’re more likely to think outside the box and generate some new ideas. There are plenty of unusual meeting rooms in London and elsewhere in the UK, we know them all and can confirm it’s always a good idea to go a little crazy. Think pink walls, strange decorations, and unexpected locations. Go a little crazy, we promise your clients will love it. Part of the reason you host meetings outside your office is that new environments can spark creativity and encourage out-of-the-box thinking, so dare to be bold.
3. Carefully Curate the Time
Time is money, make sure you know how you want to spend yours. You should always know beforehand what you want to discuss in the meeting and what your priorities are. No one wants to attend a meeting that doesn’t have a proper agenda. Instead, carefully plan what to run everyone through, what to brainstorm, or whatever it might be you’re planning for.
Set time aside for all activities and don’t let things drag too much. When the time is up people will start getting restless and stop listening so don’t waste your time and everyone else’s. This isn’t like a team away day activity, where fun is above all, it’s time to get your heads down and be productive.
A good piece of advice is to send around the itinerary beforehand. That way everyone knows what they’re signing up for and they’ll have time to prepare if they want to ask questions and join in the discussion. You might even get some useful feedback so you can make potential changes and add things to the agenda before you throw yourself in at the deep end.
4. Come to a Conclusion
Okay, that’s all good but what’s the point? Make sure you come to a proper conclusion at the end of the meeting. Decide beforehand in what direction you’d like to go and what point it is you’d like to come to a conclusion on. You don’t want anyone leaving the meeting not sure what decisions were made (if any at all). It should always be very clear to everyone involved what the outcome was and why that’s important.
This also ties into planning your meeting properly. Planning is everything and one of the most important things to prepare for is the expected outcome of your meeting. What do you actually want to get out of it? If you don’t know the answer it’s time to reevaluate why you even need to hold a meeting in the first place. The clearer you are on what you want the easier it’s going to be to evaluate and iterate your success.
5. Write Up Your Notes
After a meeting, it’s important to write up all notes and outcomes to fully utilise that momentum. Be as clear as possible, making sure everyone can understand your notes. Send it around to all attendees and maybe even some people in the company that weren’t there but who might find it relevant. Let people come with input too and add some things that you missed.
The benefit of sending around your notes is that you can double-check you’re all on the same page about things. It’s a fact that people often experience situations and meetings very differently so take the time to do this thoroughly. This is also good to go back to later on when you ask yourself ‘what was that meeting two months ago actually about?’. Always document your meetings as it’s also a perfect way to measure results and understand when meetings are useful and when they’re just a waste of time. Tracking performance should always be a part of your broader business model!