Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Five Tips for Making Meetings More Effective for Your Team Members

Five Tips for Making Meetings More Effective for Your Team Members

Meetings require a significant balancing act. Have too many of them, and it can interrupt the workflow of your team, have too few, and team collaboration and communication can suffer. On average, the current worker—regardless of role—is attending eight meetings a week.

That's a lot of events to manage. So, what do you do? There is a way to have meetings that enable you and your teams to accomplish your most pertinent goals. First, as a project manager, you have to commit to making every meeting have a purpose.

Look at it this way; your team members are doing work that is benefitting your company. Taking them away from that should only happen when you have something important to say. Meetings are the forum to say that critical thing.

Meetings don't have to be something that your team dreads. It can be a form of collaboration that pushes your team to do their best work. So, are you ready to make these events something that your team members look forward to? Here are five tips for making your meetings work for you.

Attach a Goal to Each Meeting

You should be able to articulate the goal of your meeting in one to two sentences. If you can't, then you need to re-evaluate what you and your team are meeting about. Doing this accomplishes two things:

  1. Creates value for your team - If your team knows that there is a tangible goal attached to this meeting, they will be more apt to participate and contribute.
  2. Allows you to organize the meeting - A goal will enable you to set your meeting up to let you work toward the goal. For example, you can construct your agenda to address the points needed to discuss the objective.

There should be a purpose for each time you and your team decide to meet. Ensuring that each meeting addresses a goal is an excellent way to create value for your meetings.

Create an Agenda That Works

You want to give your team the best opportunity possible to contribute what they can to the meeting. This step is where the agenda comes into play. Agendas and plans should be the blueprint of the meeting. Again, the points should build on one another to address the overarching reason for why you have called the meeting.

It should not include topics that have already been discussed, and the points included should be direct. For example, if you are meeting to discuss a project's outcome, each agenda point should allow team members to discuss the results and how you arrived at them.

Additionally, all team members should receive an agenda well in advance of the meeting. It should also include the names of individuals who are expected to participate and what they will be asked to speak about. This action allows them to prepare to talk and have the necessary information to do so. Ultimately, no one should be caught off guard about what will be discussed.

It's also vital to stick to the agenda as much as possible. A stat by High Five, a video meeting company, revealed that "Going by the Book" —or following a detailed agenda—can decrease meeting time by 80 percent.

Lastly, make sure that all meeting details are in place well before it has occurred. Have a location and time picked out, and make sure these details stay the same to drive down confusion.

Ask Your Teams for Input

No one knows more about the issues regarding meetings than your staff. They are an excellent resource for understanding what is—and isn't—working. Don't hesitate to send around surveys that ask how you can improve meetings.

This step is also a great way to see if they even have the time to participate in and prepare for meetings. For some, their workloads might be too high to find the time to contribute to one-on-one, team, or even company-wide meetings.

Additionally, do a self-check to see how you feel meetings are going. You may be witnessing some issues that you haven't given yourself the opportunity to address. You could find that you have some ideas of your own that can help. So, start jotting down ideas to manage them.

Have a Meeting About Meetings

After you've had a chance to gain some tangible insight into improving meetings, this is your chance to start practicing. Take some time with your team to come together to discuss how to make team meetings more effective. Before the gathering, look at the insights from yourself and your teams and create practical questions to delve deeper into how to change these events for the better.

Please treat this as a time where you mostly listen to colleagues by giving them the room to express their opinions about meeting processes. From there, you should make a point to leave these strategy meetings with a list of things to accomplish. You can increase your team's trust and confidence by providing action steps of how you and the leadership will address these issues. Also, be sure to give them a timeline of when changes can take place.

Agree on a Course of Action

Now that you have insight into making meetings more effective start building a strategy to improve them. Don't feel as if this needs to be a secretive process. Involve leadership as well as team members who contributed their insights and ideas.

For example, you may have discovered that you are having too many meetings within a short time-span. As a result, you may decide to cut down on meetings and expand the time you meet to ensure that everything is discussed in its entirety. Again, working with your team to create a strategy is a great way to get their buy-in and ensure that everyone is on board with the changes needed.

Meetings Can be a Significant Asset

Meetings don't have to be a dreaded event. They can be an activity that propels your teams forward to do the best work they can. Meetings are supposed to encourage team collaboration and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

It's been said that the average worker is only productive for almost three hours a day. Therefore, you want to make sure you aren't taking too much of their workday away with unnecessary meetings.

You can give your teams the best opportunity to capitalize on meetings. If they aren't working as intended, take some time to find out where the issues are. Before you know it, meetings will become a viable tool in your operations and management strategies.


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