The agenda is probably the most overlooked and crucial part of a meeting.
Do you know that feeling, when you don't know the goal of a meeting and when the discussion gets off-topic? Blame the agenda.
The most effective agendas have few topics and are set with a realistic amount of time for each agenda item.
As much as possible, collaborate on the agenda with other participants: ask them for input on it. Once prepared, share the agenda in advance. And explicitly go through the agenda items at the beginning of the meeting.
It will give a chance for everyone to come prepared and be more focus and relevant during the meeting.
Your team meeting agenda should include for the least:
Last but not least, leave some room for open discussion/impro. Include it in the agenda items at the end. It'll help you capture any open questions and include them in follow-up tasks.
For the preparation part, you should ease your task with collaborative tools, such as Slite, which helps you run great team meetings.
This person is not the "team leader" but most often the one calling for the meeting. S.he should be in charge of the agenda and timing during the meeting but doesn't have to handle everything. Other persons can write meeting minutes, for instance.
For weekly team meetings, it's a good practice to rotate the meeting leader so that everyone can learn and participate actively in improving the meeting preparation and, thus, outcomes.
Have you ever been involved in a weekly meeting, held for the sole purpose of sharing information? Yes (we know).
meetings must be dedicated to collaboration and work, not reporting.
Reporting, sharing information should be done before the meeting so everyone can reflect on it and bring solutions and questions.
So next time you want to schedule a meeting, ask yourself:
It will help you save time with fewer and more productive meetings.
Here is an example of a doc we share in advance. The reporting is included for support, the meeting isn't about it (check the agenda).
The fewer, the better. Only invite people relevant to the agenda items, not the entire team.
It will avoid the discussion to drift-off. Furthermore, your decision-making process will be more focused and relevant.
And you can always share the meeting minutes asynchronously with other people if needed.
One last thing, while some say you should never bring more than seven people to a meeting, we at Slite try to reduce meetings to 3 people, as much as possible.
It is the ideal number to be sure you don't have two groups forming in parallel, which leads to information asymmetry between the participants, and people catching up during or after the meeting.
Sticking to the time you set for the meeting will help everyone to focus on relevant matters and cut through the noise. If anything else is left to be discussed, it can always be done in the next meeting.
It's a habit to form within your team. The worse that can happen, as you show care for people's time, is everyone thanking you. True story.
To leverage your team meetings, define for each action item, a clear owner, accountable for it.
The meeting minutes should contain that information that you can share after the meeting with every participant.
The best way is to store your meeting notes in an easy to access online place so everyone can easily consult them and follow-up on their tasks.
Related content: discover how to run effective meetings with Slite
Consider if the meeting needs to be in person or not. Are there any remote team members that will need to join? If yes, make it friendly: everyone can participate remotely from their desk by using a video call conference tool such as Zoom. You'll have better-balanced participation with everyone using the same medium for communication.
For in-person meetings, laptops and phones shouldn't be present unless necessary (for instance, for the one taking the meeting notes). It will help everyone being more present, not distracting each other by browsing their emails or preparing their next slide deck.
All of the previous points are general guidelines proven to be effective. Depending on your context, you might need to adapt them and iterate.
Check-in with other participants to get their feelings about your team meetings and gets their inputs.
You can directly ask them questions like:
Based on your team feedbacks, you can go through the previous points and see how to make them even more useful for your case.
Productive and effective team meetings are not only good meeting minutes: you'll need to ensure that the right people have access to the right knowledge before, during and after your meetings and can easily collaborate on it.