Before the meeting – prepare a meeting agenda
Prep your meeting beforehand and publish an agenda a day prior to the meeting’s start time. This could simply be a quick email or a group message to illustrate what will be discussed at the meeting. Don’t dive into the details; that’s what the meeting is for. Provide 3 or 4 talking points maximum for an hour-long meeting; if you go above that you may not have enough time to thoroughly vet through your topics and leave time for an open discussion. Allowing a maximum of 4 points gives you an average of 15 minutes per topic. Need more or less time to discuss certain topics? That’s fine, just adjust your time accordingly. Maybe you only need to talk about 2 major talking points during an hour long meeting. Use your judgement.
Review the meeting agenda. Just do it. If you can see the talking points, you will know what you need to do to best prepare for the meeting. How do you relate to the talking points, and what can you add to the conversation? Do you have any questions or concerns you want to raise during the meeting? Most importantly, honor the meeting agenda. We all have our 2 cents to add, but if you have a parking lot discussion, save it for a more relevant time. If you didn’t get a chance to have your say, think whether or not it could be saved for a quick message or a one-on-one meeting.
During the meeting – Set a timer
You’ve sent out your meeting agenda and you’ve calculated how much time you want to spend on each talking point. Great work—you’re ready for your meeting. Pull out your timer of choice and conduct your meeting. When you’re starting out, you may not know how much time you will need for each talking point; that’s always going to be a trial and error situation. The more experience you have and the more you know your team, the better you will be at divvying up your time. Remember, you’re guiding the conversation. You’re allowed to curb a discussion and move on, but if a discussion is still worth perusing, find a medium that works best for your team to continue the discussion, such as chat, email, or even over a beer after work.
Respect the timer. If you didn’t get a chance to chime in, write it down and save it for another time. Don’t take it personally; it’s better to keep the ball rolling than to stop it and skew the rhythm of the meeting.
After the meeting - Ask for anonymous feedback
Reading the room can be tricky and body language can be misleading. How do you know if your meeting was worth everyone’s time? You don’t know if people are paying attention, working on other work during your meeting, or scrolling through their social media feeds. What can be done better next time? Was your meeting engaging and relevant? Does your team know what to work on after your meeting? How can you know for sure if you don’t ask? So, ask. Send out an anonymous survey. People are more likely to respond more honestly if they know their identity is safe. The hardest part of every survey, is to get people to complete them. Why not schedule 10 minutes at the end of your meeting to give attendees a minute to complete the survey, and discuss what needs to be finessed next time.
Give constructive criticism. Emphasis on *constructive*. If you have something to say that’s a bit on a personal level, save it for a one-on-one. Give feedback on things that are relevant to the meeting you just attended. Did you get enough information? Do you have direction? Did you wish you had more discussion time on a certain discussion? Was there something you wished you could have discussed that was missed during the meeting entirely? Keep in mind, the feedback you should be providing should elevate your team and your organization to be better, more organized, and help drive your personal productivity forward.