How to Lead More Productive Team Meetings

How to Lead More Productive Team Meetings

We’ve all walked away from a team meeting thinking, “that could have been an email.” If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. 55% of remote workers think this about most of their meetings. 

Team meetings are something we can all come to dread if we think they’re counter-productive and nothing more than calendar-filling. Over 83% of employees spend up to one-third of their workweek in meetings. If these aren’t productive, it’ll be costing your company valuable time and money. 

We’re sharing our top tips on how to lead more productive team meetings with a little extra preparation for more effective results. 

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Why team meetings matter

The post-pandemic shift to remote working means that team meetings matter more than ever before. The Harvard Business Review found that the number of meetings for the average worker rose by 13.5% during the pandemic.

While we’re having more team meetings, it doesn’t mean we’re being more productive. A report by Doodle found that over 70% of professionals lose time every week due to unproductive meetings. These meetings are an opportunity to maximize productivity in your company and check in on your employees.

A team meeting is a collaborative effort and a chance for employees to share their projects and ask for feedback before presenting to more senior stakeholders or leadership. It offers employees a chance to mentor and learn from each other for a positive outcome that benefits the wider team. 

The post-pandemic shift to remote working means that team meetings matter more than ever before. The Harvard Business Review found that the number of meetings for the average worker rose by 13.5% during the pandemic.
Photo: Girts Ragelis / Shutterstock.com

Efficient team meetings provide a chance for team members to brainstorm and collaborate for a more cohesive workforce. Employees can provide their experience and expertise to solve problems and offer solutions. It’s often during team meetings that you get a fresh perspective that unlocks the solution to a problem or an operational issue. Hosting productive team meetings ensures everyone is on the same page and there’s no miscommunication on projects.

The advantages of an effective team meeting

While emails help to run day-to-day operations, a face-to-face conversation can deliver the most productive results. 75% of employees consider collaboration and teamwork to be “very important”, with team meetings playing a crucial role in facilitating this. Over 80% of employees believe team meetings have a positive impact on project outcomes. 

Team meetings offer an opportunity to:

  • Brainstorm new ideas and solutions
  • Work across departments on shared tasks
  • Plan for future projects, strategies, and initiatives
  • Develop presentations for stakeholders 
  • Overcome operational challenges 
  • Improve inter-departmental communication 

7 tips on how to prepare for team meetings to make them more productive

Preparation is key when leading more productive team meetings. It sets your team meeting up for success and keeps employees engaged throughout. Effective meeting preparation will help you feel more in control and establish clear communication and expectations for those involved. You’re more likely to have a productive meeting and even get it done faster by streamlining the agenda. 

Does it have to be a meeting?

Before you arrange a meeting, decide if that is the right choice. You might be better off having an informal chat or using collaborative tools like Slack to work together on a project. There should be a specific objective that you want to get from your meeting. If you can achieve this another way, free up your diary and avoid making it another “meeting that could have been an email.” 

You might be better off having an informal chat or using collaborative tools like Slack to work together on a project. 
Photo: fizkes/ Shutterstock.com

Set a clear goal

Every meeting should have a clear goal or objective. When you decide to host a meeting, set your goals for what you want to achieve. Where does this meeting fit into the timeline of your project, and what clear takeaways do you want to get from the meeting? Having a goal provides a meaningful purpose to your team meeting and is likely to keep your employees more engaged. 

Set a team meeting agenda

Build the agenda for your team meeting around your goal or objective. Even if you have an agenda in your head, it’s best to write it out and circulate it before the meeting. It’ll keep the conversation on track and stop you from going off-topic. 

A meeting agenda also ensures that your team arrives at the meeting prepared and there’s no unnecessary anxiety from being uncertain about the contents of the meeting. Your employees can show up prepared and ready to get the most out of your team meeting. 

Ask for team input into the meeting agenda

Make your agenda a collaborative effort by asking your team for input. They might have projects they want to discuss or a problem they think the group can help with. It’s a chance to touch base with your employees and find out what value they can get from a productive team meeting. 

Make your agenda a collaborative effort by asking your team for input. They might have projects they want to discuss or a problem they think the group can help with.
Photo: Ground Picture / Shutterstock.com

Your team members will also feel like their voices are heard and respected by being asked to contribute to the agenda.

It can even help to boost employee performance. 

Consider who you’re inviting to the team meeting

Not everyone needs to sit in on every meeting. You’ll have a more productive team meeting when you have a more concise guest list with only the employees who need to be there. It avoids employees sitting in on unnecessary meetings and twiddling their thumbs. Focus on those more involved in the project in question and the key players. Employees who are less involved can be looped back into the meeting by passing along any relevant notes afterward. 

Choose the best time and setting for your team meeting

The time and setting of your team meeting can also determine its productivity. Research by Doodle found that 70% of professionals believe the morning is the best time to schedule team meetings. It also shows that 70% of workers believe virtual meetings are less stressful, with a similar number saying it’s easier to present to a group during a virtual team meeting.

An in-person meeting isn’t always the most productive, especially if you have a hybrid team. Consider whether the agenda calls for a virtual, in-person, or hybrid meeting to suit your kids.

An in-person meeting isn’t always the most productive, especially if you have a hybrid team. Consider whether the agenda calls for a virtual, in-person, or hybrid meeting to suit your kids.
Photo: Dusan Petkovic/ Shutterstock.com

Ensure everyone shows up to the meeting prepared

Meetings are more productive when everyone shows up prepared. While having an agenda will help with this, communicate with your employees to let them know if they need to contribute anything specific to the meeting. 

Send out any documents they might need to review ahead of the meeting. Sharing the agenda at least a day in advance allows your team members to brainstorm before your meeting and make a more valuable contribution. 

Tips on how to run a team meeting effectively

While preparing for your meeting is half the work, there are ways you can make the meeting itself run more effectively. Your meeting shouldn’t run over its allotted time if you plan accordingly. Putting the right processes in place during your meeting can maximize the value your team gets.

Keep your team meeting short

It’s easy for meetings to run over and go off-topic. Keep your meeting structured around its agenda and respect your team’s time. Move on to the next part of your agenda once you’ve made a decision or agreed on the next steps. Try to keep your team meetings short and to the point, allowing your team to catch up with each other before or after the meeting. 

Your meeting shouldn’t run over its allotted time if you plan accordingly. 
Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Ask for feedback from your team

You can make your meetings more productive by asking for feedback from your team. Every organization and team face challenges, and your team culture is something you should consider when planning your meetings. Invite your team to give feedback or suggest ideas for things you can incorporate into regular meetings, such as project brainstorming and monthly overviews.

Take and share meeting notes

Accurate notes are crucial for having a productive meeting. While most of your team will take their own notes, assign one person responsible for taking the minutes of the meeting, including action points, or collating everyone’s notes into one document. This responsibility should rotate across your team so that it’s not the same employee taking notes every meeting. 

While these notes keep a record of the decisions and action points of your meeting, they can also be shared with employees who didn’t attend the meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Accurate notes are crucial for having a productive meeting. While most of your team will take their own notes, assign one person responsible for taking the minutes of the meeting, including action points, or collating everyone’s notes into one document. 
Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Leading more productive team meetings in 2024

The key to having more productive team meetings is necessary preparation and structuring your meetings around an agenda to get the best results for your team.

Here is a step-by-step guide to more productive meetings:

  • Does it have to be a meeting?
  • Choose a goal or objective
  • Set a team meeting agenda
  • Only invite necessary employees
  • Send any relevant documents 
  • Stay on time and don’t run over
  • Share meeting notes
  • Ask for feedback

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