As a manager, you work hard to organize your team, and in the rush of the daily grind, you can’t afford to waste your time in meetings. But in order to manage your team effectively, you have to host succinct and to-the-point meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page and has a clear objective week after week.
Use this 6-point checklist to ensure your meetings are clear and organized, so you and your team can collaborate efficiently and knock your task lists out of the park.
1. Prepare an agenda
Arguably one of the most important meeting tools you can prepare for an effective meeting. The purpose of the meeting agenda is to help guide the meeting and to inform your participants of what to expect. Therefore, your agenda should identify the purpose of the meeting for you and your team. Are you trying to reach a unanimous consensus and solve a problem, or is your meeting more information-based? The meeting agenda should brief everyone on the time and place of your meeting, the order of events, and how much time each item on the agenda will take. Some formal meeting agendas will highlight the type of meeting, who is facilitating, and a list of attendees. To keep it simple, stick to listing the time, place, order of discussion, and the time allotted to each discussion.
2. Invite necessary participants
We’ve already disproven the myth that not everyone has to be in a meeting. When you only invite participants that need to be there, you save everyone else the burden of having to stop their work and sit idly around a discussion that is irrelevant to them. Meetings are already notorious for being the one of the largest contributors to wasted time at work, so invite only those who will add relevant insights to your meetings. Before the meeting, follow up with your meeting attendees that have yet to RSVP to your meeting invite. If a relevant attendee can’t make it to your meeting, consider inviting an AI assistant that transcribes your minutes automatically and delivers the entire summarized meeting to missing attendees (who can then catch up later)!
3. Deliver pre-meeting materials
Send any digital or printed materials to your attendees a day or two before your scheduled meeting. When you do, you must clearly communicate that your attendees should familiarize themselves with the materials prior to the start of the meeting. However, if some of your attendees don’t have time to fully review these materials, write out a short summary at the top of each section to prevent leaving them in the dark.
4. Check your AV
Ever hosted a meeting where you don’t have the proper cables to run a slideshow? Or perhaps the light bulb in the projector has burned out and nobody noticed. These are things that tend to go unnoticed when we become confident and familiar with our own office space, or if we are presenting in an unfamiliar space. It’s always a smart idea to show up a little early to your meeting and ensure everything is working the way you want it. This may seem like a small, unnecessary effort, but it could negatively impact the outcome of your meeting when things go awry. Don’t take the chance! On those days where technology isn’t cooperating, be sure to have a back-up plan.
5. Assign action items
At the end of every. single. meeting, your team should walk away with an actionable outcome - or else what’s the point of meeting? This likely means you’ll assign tasks to individuals on your team and set firm deadlines so everyone leaves knowing exactly what the end result needs to be, what is expected of them, and when their piece is due. As mentioned above, you have the ability to leverage meeting notes software that can help you assign action items – so you and your team have no excuses for not assigning, or missing, action items. Leverage these hand tools in every way you can so your attendees can be present during your discussions without the worry of forgetting something.
6. Follow up
At the end of each meeting, take some time to solidify action items and deadlines in a quick recap to ensure everyone understands the next steps. When an agreement was made, or a deadline was set, a quick follow up via email, IM, or face-to-face chat can help further solidify whether or not a proposed deadline is possible. If you want anything done after a meeting, you have to be consistent in following up with your team members. Priorities can quickly change, and, at times, fires need to be put out – which can affect the plans made in your previous meeting. Let it be known that if a deadline can’t be fulfilled on time, the person assigned to the task would clearly communicate that and renegotiate a more realistic deadline. Remember, the point of following up is to scan for any glitches that might arise after a meeting, and to problem solve possible solutions. The negative impacts of not following up can lead to a postponed project timeline, which can increase frustration and leave your team feeling defeated because they feel like they are holding the project back. Empower your team by setting them up for success. Communication matters. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it does take practice and commitment.
This is a solid list of meeting tools that will help both emerging and seasoned professionals make the best out of any meeting. Whether you use an AI assistant to help you host kick-ass meetings, or if you are a lone wolf conquering the meeting mountain, this checklist should set you up for success every time.