5 Tips for Leading Effective Meetings

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What do you think of when you think of a business meeting? Is it a time to be productive? Or is it a time and money waster? 

There are valid arguments for both ideas. 

Meetings get people together. They can brainstorm, hash out ideas, and come together as a group. It’s powerful when you have multiple people in a room together to work through a pressing matter.

Then there’s the flip side. Meetings waste money. Think about how many people are involved in your meetings. How many are there? If there are five people in your meeting, each person gets paid an average of $30 an hour, and the meeting lasts an hour, that is $150 for the meeting. Now, the meeting recurs every week – $7,800 a year for a meeting. What if the meeting group was larger? The cost of the meeting goes up even more.

That’s why it’s vital to lead effective meetings. Effective meetings are meetings where you meet for a minimal amount of time, accomplish what was outlined in the meeting agenda, and people walk away with a clear idea of the next steps to take.

So, how do we do this? Read on, for we will discuss this in greater detail.

5 Tips For Leading Effective Meetings

1. Keep meetings on topic:

We’ve all been in meetings where the meeting goes here, there, and anywhere but where it’s supposed to go. You walk away from the meeting feeling deflated, confused, and frustrated. 

That’s not a productive meeting. To have a productive and effective meeting, you have to stay on topic. You can do this by:

  • Stopping conversations as they go off the rails
  • Having an easy-to-follow agenda
  • Reminding people why they’re in the meeting

2. Limit the number of attendees:

I’ve been in multiple meetings where I wondered why I was invited. I didn’t know what was happening, how I added anything to the conversation, or the end goal. My presence wasn’t needed, and my advice wasn’t asked for.

When we think of meetings, sometimes we think of inviting the whole organization. It sounds good in theory but in practice it does 2 things. 

The first: it adds an exponential cost to the meeting. Every additional team member you bring into the meeting is burning their hourly rate. We don’t think about this but these extra manhours add up quickly.

The second: it hinders the decision-making process. The more people in the room, the easier it is to continue conversations that don’t need to be hashed out. Bring in the key decision-makers and have them go at it.

3. Have an agenda:

An agenda is a roadmap for where you want the meeting to go. You plot out the key topics and the discussion points. From there, you can follow the agenda to focus on what’s important and to keep the meeting on track (tip number 1!).

Your agenda will be the boundary for your meeting. It’s fencing it in to focus on what has been deemed important, what needs to be discussed, and by whom. 

Don’t be afraid to create an agenda to set guardrails for your meeting.

4. Follow up:

Too many meetings happen, and then there’s no follow-up. Everything that was discussed went in one ear and out the other. Or at least for most of the people in the meeting.

Creating an effective follow-up plan will make your meetings more effective and things will get done afterward. Make sure you’re following up so the things that were discussed get done.

5. Use technology to your benefit:

We forget the great leaps and bounds of technology that have occurred in recent years. Some of this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to work remotely. Other parts are due to the rise in AI technologies and what it can do for us.

Use technology for your benefit. Maybe everyone doesn’t need to be in the physical room, but quite a few people do. Get a great webcam, such as the Meeting Owl 3. This webcam/smart video conference camera allows for a wide view of the room and has automatic speaker-focusing capabilities.

There are also AI systems that can record the meeting and then transcribe the meeting. I’ve found Fireflies.ai to be a great source for this. Fireflies.ai will automate your meeting notes, summarize the meeting, and analyze conversations. 

There’s more technology out there that will serve you well. Don’t be afraid to go out there and find the right technology to make your meeting better.

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