Whether you're a junior professional or project manager who is now starting to organize and run their own meetings, or you're just looking for tips to make yours more efficient and effective, here are the 6 steps you need to follow to ensure you get the most out of these collaborative sessions.
First and foremost: should this be a meeting at all?
Assess critically if the challenge you're trying to overcome, or the alignment you require to move forward with your project can only be solved through a meeting session. Can you perhaps drop by your colleague’s desk for a quick discussion? Could a short and snappy email be more efficient? Could you get confirmation over a Teams chat?
Define who the key players are
Make a list of stakeholders who should be involved in the discussion, then split them into two groups: people who just need to know about the outcome and people who are key decision-makers. Create a meeting invite including only the colleagues in the second group, and consider re-scheduling the session whenever someone cannot make it to the planned timeslot.
Even if meetings can now be recorded and watched at a later point in time, you shouldn't assume your colleagues will have the time to actually do so. You should aim for all key decision-makers to be able to take part in the discussion and provide their feedback or insights throughout the working session. By following this advice, not only you'll make sure to hear from all the key decision makers, but you will also avoid having to follow up on additional points being raised afterward.
The golden rule: craft a kick-ass meeting invite
Write a detailed description of what the session is about and what you need to accomplish. This step is key, as it's focused on managing expectations on both ends.
Start by providing background on the project or task you're working on, and what your role or responsibility is. Attach any pre-reads or links necessary for the attendees to come prepared for the session.
Continue by detailing the meeting objectives and the agenda. If you're expecting some of the attendants to present or participate, make sure you state it clearly and assign roles and timeslots to each speaker.
An example could be:
Good morning, This is Carla from the Digital Marketing team. I'm currently working on the strategy for our next apparel campaign and would like to hear your thoughts on the first conceptual draft so we can proceed with planning, production, and implementation. Please find attached a deck including campaign objectives, target audience, positioning, tone of voice, visual identity, and copy mock-ups. Meeting agenda:
Thanks so much for your time in preparation for the session. Please let me know if the defined timeslot for the session doesn't work on your end.
Guide the conversation
Ensure speakers are respecting the allocated timeslots, and don't be scared to remind them when the conversation is going off-track, or transitioning towards a specific topic or detail, away from the objective of the meeting.
Some of the sentences you can use to redirect the conversation are:
Recap, recap, recap
Reserve the last 5 minutes of the meeting to recap the conversation, define and align on conclusions, roles & responsibilities, and next steps
And lastly: share the meeting minutes
Summarize the key points discussed during the session and share them with both the colleagues in attendance and other people who need to be informed of the outcome of the discussion.
Make sure you also capture the to-dos assigned to each stakeholder, and you specify a deadline for each one of them. By doing so, it will be easier to create accountability, track progress or identify when a deadline is being missed (and a colleague needs a little nudge!).
We would love to hear any other tips you may have to organize super effective and efficient meetings. Drop your thoughts in the comment section!