We’ve all been stuck in a bad meeting. Host? Late. Agenda? Unclear. There truly is nothing more frustrating than leaving a meeting feeling like it was a complete waste of time, and as research shows that only 50% of the time spent during a meeting is effective, (with virtual meetings scoring even lower) there’s no surprise so many attendees find them unproductive.
But this doesn’t always have to be the case – effective meetings can leave your team feeling empowered, motivated, and ready to act, allowing for real change to happen. So if you want to plan and host a successful meeting, try following these simple steps.
Setting up for success
The success of any meeting is determined before it has even begun, and it all comes down to solid preparation – something that is often forgotten about or pushed down on the list of priorities. It can be helpful to think of meeting prep much like the foundations of a house. Without the foundations, the house will crumble and fall, as will your meeting. Neglect creating a structured, well thought out plan and agenda, and your meeting, no matter how important, will quickly lose any sense of direction and become inefficient and boring.
Firstly, it’s wise to consider the reason behind your meeting. Is there a problem that needs solving? Do you need to rally the troops and inform your team about a new initiative? Clarifying the purpose is the first and foremost step that will ultimately drive the rest of your preparation.
Now you’re clear on the purpose of your meeting, it’s time to develop an agenda which should consist of a list of topics, talking points, action items, and activities you’re looking to include within the meeting. Decide how much time you should devote to each item on your list and order them in the most logical way, but keep in mind that the longer your agenda, the harder it will be for your attendees to remain focused.
Goal? Tick. Schedule? Nailed it. But what about the attendees themselves? Selecting the right participants is crucial for your desired outcome. Consider who can help you accomplish your goal and who will be affected by the meeting’s final action points. Attendees should include key decision makers, topic experts, and those who will need to be kept in the loop to enable them to do their jobs.
Choosing the perfect venue
The first thing every meeting host has on their to-do list is finding a suitable venue. Sure, small, ad hoc catch ups can take place at your desk or in a coffee shop, but when it comes to important decision making and problem solving, taking your team out of the office can inspire fresh ideas, new conversations and greatly increase productivity.
But when it comes to booking a meeting venue, there are a few things to bear in mind, starting with location. When preparing for an important meeting, finding the venue should be the least of your worries, which is why transport, parking, and nearby facilities such as overnight accommodation should all be considered when choosing a meeting venue.
Speaking of facilities, you’ll want to ensure your chosen venue fits your criteria. Do you need Wi-Fi? What about a projector? Is there somewhere you can grab a coffee? These considerations may seem small but are crucial when it comes to your meeting running smoothly.
Engagement is key
If you have a lack of engagement, you have a problem – you aren’t maximising your team’s time or energy, meaning your meeting has little to no value. Sound familiar? There are some quick fixes you can implement that will turn yawns into smiles, completely changing the outcome of your meeting!
Start with the good news (or remain as encouraging as you can for the more serious stuff). Starting on a positive note is a great, non-cheesy ice breaker that will get everyone talking and set a good tone for the rest of the meeting.
Now that everyone is raring and ready to go, try something new and encourage different team members to get involved and voice their thoughts and opinions. Hearing different voices and learning from others is a great way to shake things up, as is giving your attendees something to do during the meeting.
Meetings can take time and sitting in the same spot listening to the same person for the duration is a sure way to make it dull. Plan ahead and give your attendees tasks to complete, opportunities to break off into smaller groups, and freedom to talk openly in a safe space. Doing so will break stale habits and involve your team in a way that keeps them fully engaged at all times.
Trust is essential to not only an effective team, but an effective team meeting – a primary arena where trust is either built or eroded between leaders and their staff.
When your team members feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable to open up, take appropriate risks, and expose vulnerabilities which can lead problems to solutions, unify direction, open new doors and ensure commitment and accountability.
Speaking the truth is a great first step. Meeting hosts can model trust by responding to questions in an honest and complete manner, delivering clarity and transparency. Be balanced and communicate both the positives and the negatives.
Speaking of positives, positive feedback is another great tactic for building trust and has a proven track record of success. Praise is one of the best indicators of credibility to other team members so be sure to actively highlight positive contributions and personal wins within the team.
Leave the last part of your meeting to discuss the next steps. You should decide who is responsible for what and make deadlines and expectations crystal clear – without an action plan your meeting can quickly become forgotten about and plans and goals will soon fade into the background. Encourage questions and follow up conversations too to ensure everyone is on the same page.
We have nine fully equipped spaces, ideal for large seminars or smaller business meetings. Located just 30 miles from London, three miles from the A21 and two miles from the spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells, our venue is easily accessible by rail or car with free parking available to all guests.
For more information, room layouts and breakdowns, click here. Or to enquire, contact our team on firstname.lastname@example.org