We’ve all been there. Whether you’ve been sitting at an ornate teak table in an extravagant boardroom with a breath-taking view or on a bean bag in a tiny room where the whole workforce has managed to squeeze in; whether you get deplorably bored and think that you’re the first person to make the “bored room – boardroom” connection or have so much fun that you forget that you’re still “at work”; whether you end up with an aching neck due to all the meaningless nodding you did or come upon this amazing discovery that you can sleep with your eyes wide open. We have all, at some point or the other, been a part of at least one of those team meetings that simply achieve nothing.
Team meetings simply cannot be about making a presentation which you think will flaunt your PPT skills. They are not a forum to prove your intellectualism, to regurgitate ideas, or to roam about with a marker/pointer, all on company time! Instead, team meetings are an investment of organizational resources leading to certain outcomes albeit in terms of agreement, denial, solution, understanding, insight or learning.
So, what’s the key to a productive team meeting?
The plan: It always helps to have a predefined agenda for any meeting. At the outset, you should be aware of what you’re driving at. The plan needs to guide the team meeting instead of emerging out of it.
Great expectations: Now that you have a set agenda, you know what you want from the meeting. But what about the others? The key to holding a successful meeting is making sure there’s a meaningful takeaway for everyone. A great way to ensure this is to list out expectations from the meeting prior to or when you start. This also works like a short ice-breaker to get people talking.
Boundaries are good: There are always those on the team who have a lot to share. While that’s great, it often leads to digressions that the discussion does not really need. It’s best to set some rules right when you start so that these conversational tangents can be avoided and people who tend to sway away, can be reeled right in.
Action points that matter: A meeting leads to measurable outcomes only when every member leaves with a clear idea of his/her deliverables. This can be done by linking all the points discussed to action-focused goals and a quick recap of responsibilities before wrapping up the meeting. Without this approach, everything discussed remains just that – things that have been discussed.
Lend an ear: When you’re conducting a meeting, you need to listen as much as talk. Moreover, there will always be those who tend to dominate and those who seem to be under a verbal lock-down. Asking for feedback and opinions from everyone is a great way to ensure engagement and participation.
Put a time limit: There are meetings that seem to go on forever. The temporal length of a meeting is not necessarily proportionate to its effectiveness. Moreover, after a certain point, you can almost hear tired grey cells trying to churn out ideas as the same points get repeated. Amazingly unrelated topics seem to take hold of the discussion and you can sense the engagement levels drop. Thus, putting a hard-stop on time is a good idea that prevents meaningless marathon meetings.
A team meeting, in its truest essence, is a conversation that engages, leads necessary transformation and drives success. By setting CLEAR and SMART goals for everyone individually and for the team as a whole, you can make this conversation much more than just talking or staring at a presentation. What say?
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