It is a universally acknowledged truth that meetings are vital when it comes to the successful running of a company. Individuals within teams need to know what everyone else is doing so that their tasks do not overlap and so that they can strengthen work and personal bonds, and company-wide meetings ensure that everyone is on the same page with regard to the direction the company is heading in.
In addition, meetings allow for face-to-face communication in a world where business is increasingly conducted over the internet or telephone. Body language and tone does not come through electronically (though of course emails and phone calls are still vital when it comes to keeping in touch) so a meeting allows the participants to really get on the same page rather than agreeing to something they don’t think is right because they want to get off the phone. They can also work together to find a solution for a problem or to set realistic goals and timelines for future projects.
How can you have a productive team meeting, though? How can you keep everyone engaged (especially on a Friday afternoon) and contributing and generally ensure that the meeting isn’t a waste of time?
Keeping your team engaged in a meeting
The only people included in a meeting should be the people whose work it involves, so they should be engaged and listening to what is going on anyway, but it can be easy to drift away, especially in relatively large gatherings. One of the best ways to keep invitees engaged is to maintain focus on the discussion topics that have been agreed upon, and to keep the meeting relatively short (no more than an hour or so if possible). The meeting leader should also endeavour not to lecture and encourage the discussion and debate of appropriate points so everybody has a chance to contribute.
Getting your team to contribute and pulling their weight
It can be difficult to ensure that everybody in the meeting actually contributes to a satisfactory degree. For a start, meetings should be kept relatively small so that there is no opportunity for anyone to hide, but ultimate meeting sizes will depend on the size of the company or department – work off a maximum of twenty participants for a small to medium-sized business. A good way of easing them into the discussion is to begin with a round-robin of contributions (something they think is going well, something they think could be improved on and so on) so that everybody gets a chance to speak.
Ensuring team meetings are effective
The meeting should always have a clear set of goals. Discussion topics should be highlighted before the meeting and reiterated at the start of it so everybody is prepared for what is scheduled to come up and are able to facilitate useful discussion. At the end of the meeting, the actions or next steps that have been decided upon should be emailed to all of the relevant people. It should also be agreed that those next steps will be completed by a certain date (possibly the date of the next meeting, which can be set then and there). This will ensure that tasks progress with everyone on the same page and that the business can grow. You can also ask for feedback with regard to whether employees are finding the meetings useful, thus helping you to improve them.