We've all been there- a meeting that starts late and goes on well beyond its time slot. So, what steps can you take to encourage more efficient staff meetings?
Illumine8 is here to help with 5 tips to streamline your meetings.
Create Meeting Agendas
Create a thoughtful and practical agenda and send it at least four to five business days in advance of your meeting date.
- The agenda should include an outline of broad topic categories and should list those team members responsible for each section of the agenda.
- Time allowances for each agenda section should also be mapped out in detail.
- The key is to create a framework for your meeting, not to detail each and every point of discussion or action item.
- It is critical to give your staff enough lead time to review the agenda, so when they arrive at the meeting, there will be no surprises and all participants should be prepared.
Include Mandatory Pre-reads
Your meeting time should not be consumed by getting team members educated on the topic at hand. Your face-time needs to focus on solving problems and mapping out action steps as efficiently as possible. Meetings can get bogged down in getting the team informed. Meeting attendees should be up-to-speed walking into the room.
- Prepare slide decks or summary documents and send them with your agenda four to five days in advance.
- Pre-reads should not be too long or complex. The goal is to get everyone educated on the project, process or topic painlessly and quickly.
- Make it crystal clear that understanding the Pre-read documents prior to the scheduled meeting is mandatory.
Identify a Meeting Leader
Meeting leaders will likely vary. Standing staff meetings could have a consistent meeting leader while project or client meetings could have different moderators. Whomever is selected to lead the meeting needs to be an active facilitator, not a passive observer.
- The leader needs to be empowered to start the meeting on time, appropriately ending small talk and beginning the discussion regardless of full attendance. In other words, start on time and make those that are late feel their lateness.
- The leader should allow for some latitude for tangential discussions, but it is their role to always bring the discussion back to the agenda, even if this means redirecting those of "higher rank" back to the focus of the meeting.
- If the meeting leader is not a senior staff member it's important for senior staff in the room (or via company policy) to make it clear that this individual is empowered to run the meeting and will be backed by higher-ups within the organization.
Identify a Note-Taker
Separate tasks. Ideally, your meeting leader or moderator should not be responsible for documenting the discussion. Assign note-taking to another staff member so that each individual can focus on their respective roles, facilitation and documentation.
For businesses with fewer staff, combining these roles will be necessary and can still be effective, though it will likely diminish the meeting leader's ability to be a powerful and influential moderator.
Create and Distribute Meeting Recaps
The meeting leader and note-taker need to work together immediately following the discussion to write a meeting recap. The recap should not be a word-for-word transcript of the meeting. Rather, follow these best practices to write useful meeting recaps:
- Distill action items and dedicate a section of your recap to next steps. Attach responsible parties and milestone dates/deadlines to each action item.
- Summarize major discussion points by agenda item. Again, this is not a word-for-word account. Distill essential points and provide a discussion snapshot for the team.
- Produce the recap immediately after the meeting and commit to distributing it within one-two business days of the meeting. Timelines move fast, and recap delays will cause the document to be outdated and could result in confusion.
These tips apply to both internal and client/external meetings with slight variations.
For internal meetings, you'll have more latitude with tone and holding attendees accountable for being late or not reading the materials.
When working with a client team, you'll have less control and accountability will need to be handled in partnership with the client's style and internal processes.
The basic best practice structure is applicable in either case:
- Create a framework (agenda)
- Educate pre-meeting (distribute pre-reads)
- Stick to the agenda (empower your moderator)
- Recap action items and main discussion points
- Distribute a recap in a timely manner
If you'd like to learn how Illumine8 can help you streamline your marketing processes, reach out to us.
We'd love to hear from you and learn more about your business.