I consult, write and do training on how to run effective meetings.
Here are a few of my tips.
1. State the purpose of the call. In one sentence say what you expect from the meeting. “Today we will….” If you wish you can follow that with the three main agenda items and outcomes you expect. If you are having a conference call make sure you really need it. If you are just sharing information or reading slides just send it in an email. Meetings should only be set if you need feedback, ideas and questions.
2. Send an Agenda and Questions before the meeting – Some employees love to prepare ahead of time so if you send people and agenda that highlight specifically, what you’re looking for such as. “I will go around and ask each of you to tell me what you need for the next step in the JK4 authorization change.” Those who like to prepare will have their notes ready. Some employee will act like they never saw any pre meeting announcement. They wait till they get to the meeting when they hear other people talk, they want to interact to get their creative juices flowing so don’t get mad at them.
3. Spend a few minutes on “Small Talk” at the beginning of the meeting - Small talk actually saves you time. Surprising research says that the rapport gained in less than two minutes of effective small talk lets everyone get an emotional read of the meeting members. That makes it easier for people to share and creates more buy in of the content of the meeting. We forget that there are so many things we do in a face to face conversation, to establish report nonverbally and verbally. Surprisingly, research shows that if you cut out a little visiting conference call meeting last longer. Try something old and something new. So ask about the weather, people’s families, what people did last weekend and if you want to mix it up ask people to briefly say the best thing that has happened in their lives since the last call. If there is a positive news story ask if people heard about it. Think of it of small talk as an agenda item. Label and call t Rapport Building Time or Team Time. Tell the time. “Team Building time is important. It helps us work more effectively on the call and appreciate each person who is on the team.”
4. Include Everyone - People need to feel accepted and part of the group. Make sure you do something so that everyone says something before the end of the meeting or you acknowledge them verbally in some way for something they did outside the meeting. For example of Sam rarely speaks in the meeting say, “Sam thank your for the extra time you put in to serve are Client last Friday.” Even if you said it to Sam at the time, you are acknowledging him in front of the group. Some employees may feel a bit uncomfortable for a minute, but you need to let the group know participation in the meeting is important and that good actions are noticed and acknowledged.
5. Conduct an “end of meeting check in” and ask
a. “Is there anything that you are going to feel or need to go forward?”
b. “Let’s go around and check in.”
c. “Let’s go around so I can hear from each person what their next action item is on this.”