If you want to have more productive and focused team meetings or lead meetings in a more effective way this article is for you.
It will share 8 tips on how to lead meetings in a way that everyone within the team comes away energised and with clarity on what to do next.
In a busy week, the last thing any leader or manager wants is a wasted hour or two sat in an unproductive meeting.
If I asked you what the most efficient way to be inefficient would be, I’m sure many of you would say “bad meetings.”
Meetings today consume more work hours than ever before.
Effective meetings can be energising and produce real results.
How not to lead meetings effectively
How many meetings have you attended where there was no clear agenda or objective?
How many of you have sat in meetings that jumped around from topic to topic with no clear action plan at the end of the meeting?
Are you always clear who is actually leading the meeting in the first place?
If you’ve left meetings more confused than when you arrived, please raise your hand.
Meetings shouldn’t have to be something we dread and endure.
They don’t have to be something we drift in and out of.
Effective meetings should be energising and productive
Meetings should be intentional, energising and productive.
They should deliver real, tangible results with clear next steps.
So how can we lead meetings effectively so they are more productive and deliver bigger results?
How to lead meetings
Here are 8 tips to lead meetings effectively so they are always productive and beneficial for everyone involved:
1. Lead meetings in a positive way
To get everyone in the room in a positive mindset and energised for the meeting, a great starting point is to get everyone in the room to share something they’ve made progress on or are excited about.
If you want to lead meetings effectively go first and set the tone.
This immediately creates the energy and direction of the entire meeting and for your team.
Rather than your team being in a negative mindset about having to attend the meeting, your team come from a place of positivity, contribution and positivity.
2. Have a clear leader in the room
Whatever the purpose of the meeting, someone in the room has to take charge and understand how to lead meetings effectively.
This person will set the agenda for the meeting, make sure it doesn’t go off topic and will ensure the meeting stays within an agreed timeframe.
They will often report on progress.
Clarity is created on what needs to happen after the meeting, and get commitment from people in the meeting on future actions steps.
If there is no-one leading the meeting, people with the biggest personalities or biggest opinions can dominate and stop quieter personalities from contributing.
3. Have the right people in the meeting
Think back to the last great meeting you were in.
Was the meeting full of people “making up the numbers’” or was it full of people who were contributing and providing input?
I’m guessing it was the latter.
To lead a really productive meeting, take time to consider who will be involved.
You want people in the room who will add value, who are active contributors, have background knowledge, are decision makers, are action takers and who will be directly impacted by the outcome of the meeting.
When you know how to lead meetings effectively, you will become wary of filling the room.
Unless you absolutely have to, with people whose motivation for being there is either status or a fear of missing out on something.
Focus on getting people in the meeting room who will bring productive contribution, not passive bystanders.
4. A leader maximises people strengths
Not everyone in your company or team are the right fit for every meeting.
A great tip for leading productive meetings is to get clear on what meetings team members should and should not be a part of.
As a leader, don’t think about just filling the room, be selective about inviting people who you know will make the biggest contribution.
We all have different strengths.
Some of your team members will be great in brainstorming meetings, while others may get stressed out at the thought of participating.
When it comes to lead meetings with the biggest impact, it’s important to consider what energy you want in the room and who can bring the right value to a meeting.
Leading effective meetings is often about being the conductor of a great orchestra.
If you don’t have the right complementary instruments and performers in the room, collaborating together and working in harmony, the result can be a big mess.
But, if you bring the right performers together, the results can be magical and inspiring.
5. End meetings with clear action steps
Think back to the last meeting you were in, chances are there were lots of great conversations, valuable inputs and insights.
But what happened at the end of the meeting? Did you all go your separate ways, or was there clear action steps and responsibilities set?
When you lead meetings effectively, it’s worthwhile to set aside time at the end of every meeting to have everyone share their biggest insight.
This reinforces contribution and collaboration and ensures everyone comes away from the meeting with a clear perspective on the value of the meeting.
To reinforce this further, it is the responsibility of the meeting’s leader to clearly lay out the action steps, personal responsibilities and timeframes for taking action on the key elements of the meeting.
6. Lead meetings with a clear purpose
Staying on track is one of the hardest challenges for leading an effective meeting.
The reason for this is that many meetings are set up without a clear purpose, or even agenda.
Some meetings happen simply because someone may have decided that you are going to have a weekly status meeting.
Turning up to meetings like that, without a clear understanding of what specifically the meeting is about, what the agenda is or what the priorities for the meeting are, can make you feel like the meeting is a waste of your time.
When you lead meetings with a clear purpose, you and your team will be more engaged, know what to prepare beforehand and know what the desired outcomes of the meeting are.
7. Make meetings shorter
If you have a clear purpose and agenda for the meeting, you should have a sense of how long the meeting should last.
Many meetings I’ve experienced in the past had a calendar invite set for either 45 minutes or 60 minutes.
Some meetings actually finished earlier, but because the time frame had been set for a designated time, the meeting carried on going for no real reason.
Start setting meetings with a shorter time window, be that 30 minutes or 40 minutes, and see if the meetings become more productive and effective.
Our attention span and energy levels can begin to drop off the longer the meeting goes on.
8. Lead meetings with a clear start and end time
No one wants to be kept waiting for meetings to start, and have to reschedule if meetings overrun.
If you lead meetings that start on time and end on time, participants know what to expect and know to turn up on time.
If team members choose not to arrive on time, it may be wise to have a separate meeting with that person to make it clear that you expect them to arrive on time.
Being able to lead meetings is a capability that can be learned.
Meetings are not going away. They are an inevitable, and essential.
If you want to learn to lead meetings effectively you must ensure they are not just a waste of time.
They need to be an effective way of collaborating and working to deliver and achieve major goals and projects.
Which tip on leading meetings more effectively will you use in your next meeting?
Have I missed anything? Either way, let me know in the comments.
This article is an adaptation of an article I wrote on how to lead effective team meetings for Lifehack.