How many meetings have you attended that seemed to drag on forever? Or maybe you've wasted time at meetings you didn't need to be at. Most people do not enjoy meetings, but they are vital to nearly every business. Harvard Business Review recently surveyed 192 senior executives and found:
- 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work
- 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient
- 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking
- 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together
Virtual meetings on Zoom or Google Meet add an additional level of complexity. Hosting a successful meeting comes down to planning and here are some tips to help you plan your best meeting ever.
Invite the right attendees
Having the right attendees is one of the most important aspects of scheduling success. A meeting won't be very productive if you don't have the right people in attendance. Include people who are crucial to the success of the meeting and can make a meaningful contribution. Let attendees know why they are needed and what their role will be when you invite them. By doing this, you can make sure that only those who are essential attend.
Be respectful of everyone's schedules when coordinating a meeting time. Finding a time that works for everyone can be challenging since some attendees will already have a calendar filled with meetings.Try to find a time that works for the majority of people you are inviting. If you're unable to find a time that works for everyone, focus on the availability of the people who are most needed at the meeting. To assist with finding a time, consider using an AI Chief of Staff like Xembly to handle internal and external scheduling needs on your behalf. Xembly can be used alongside Slack or email to assist in finding the right meeting time for participants.
Allocate enough time
It's frustrating to participants when a meeting ends without accomplishing the meeting's objectives or drags on because they've been scheduled for one hour, but the time needed to accomplish the discussion is less than that. A lot of meeting organizers schedule a meeting for one hour without considering how much time is actually needed. If you want to ensure your meetings are productive, start with a clear agenda and create a preliminary timeline for each agenda item. Taking the time to do this will help you immensely when it comes time to facilitate your meeting.
Set a tactical agenda
A tactical agenda is a roadmap that outlines the desired results and how you plan to achieve them in your meeting. To do this, first decide what the purpose of the meeting is:
- What needs to be discussed?
- What decisions need to be made?
- What outcome are you trying to achieve? Brainstorming, planning, present information, or something else?
- How will you know you've accomplished what you set out to at the end of your meeting?
Next, create a timeline for each discussion item and make sure to leave room for questions and open discussion at the end.Finally, distribute the agenda to participants before the meeting.
Allow Collaborative Input into the Agenda
Allowing a collaborative agenda means soliciting input from team members about what should be discussed at the meeting beforehand. Welcoming input from others does not necessarily mean every item needs to be included or voted on. What it does mean is that people will be allowed to influence the discussion by incorporating input important for their role. As a result, people will feel heard and that their opinions and concerns matter. This will help increase engagement and interest at the meeting itself. Additionally, it will help focus the discussion. By knowing what matters to people before the meeting, you can avoid meandering conversations and wasteful discussions. Plus, allowing collaboration helps to foster innovation, creativity, and new ideas.
Your role as meeting facilitator is to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly, efficiently, and effectively.
Keep the meeting on track
A good facilitator will keep the meeting on track, manage conflict, and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.Utilize your preliminary timeline to help make sure you'll be able to cover everything on the agenda within your allotted time frame.
Use effective listening
People are more likely to contribute when they feel they're being heard. Proactively use effective listening to encourage creativity and sharing of ideas.
Companies that encourage inclusion are 36% more likely to outperform less diverse companies. However, when asked:"I feel comfortable speaking during internal meetings" Of those who said they strongly agreed or agreed:
- 91% of white men
- 85% of white women
- 78% of men of color
- 75% of women of color
They also found Gen Z to be the generation least likely to feel comfortable speaking up. (Source: Hyper Context)
Meeting Note Taking
Meeting notes should summarize the key points discussed, decisions that were made, and any action items. They can also provide a summary for anyone who could not attend the meeting. If you are taking notes manually, consider the following steps:
- Start with Your Agenda: Using the agenda you created before the meeting as a starting point can help keep your notes organized.
- Record Attendees: Make note of who attended the meeting so that if anyone needs to follow up afterward, they'll recall who was there.
- Capture Decisions, Outcomes, and Action Items: Meeting notes do not need to include a verbatim report of everything that was said during the meeting. Capturing decisions, outcomes, and action items for follow-up is the most useful information for your meeting notes.
For action items, remember the three W's.
- What the action is
- who is responsible
- when should it be completed
AI-Assisted Note Taking
For teams that are interested in working with full participation from every team member, consider using AI-assisted meeting note taking software to support the meeting. Many software tools can provide a full transcription of the meeting. This can be helpful when exact recordings of every word spoken are needed, but these can often be too long and dense for practical everyday usage. Other tools like Xembly enable meeting organizers to create summarized notes with action items that are more readily understood and acted upon.
Different types of meetings will have different outcomes. A brainstorming or problem-solving meeting will often end with fewer action items and things to follow up on compared to a planning meeting for example.
Distribute Meeting Notes to All Participants
Finally, once you've captured everything you need for your meeting notes, distribute them to those who were at the meeting or were invited but could attend. By using a shareable document, participants can add any information they feel is necessary.For Xembly users, the auto-share functionality can enable meeting facilitators the ease of automatically distributing notes to meeting participants. These can be set for auto-share or edited beforehand to ensure their accuracy.
Putting it all together
Few people look forward to attending meetings. By taking steps to proactively plan your meeting, effectively facilitate and make follow up a breeze, your next Zoom or Google Meet meeting can help you break the trend and achieve your objectives. PS:If you’d like a hand running a perfect remote meeting, give Xembly a try!