Let’s face it – no one is really fond of team meetings. Worst case scenario, you get barked at, while at best you get to spend 2 hours trying to stay focused on the sixth time in a row you spend discussing the new brochures. It is possible, however, to avoid them both. Here’s how to achieve it with our 18 steps towards a more efficient team meeting.
1. Set some ground rules
Escreo has a curious rule – whoever is late for Monday team meetings has to buy snacks for everyone for the rest of the week. It may sound funny, but we hold on to it. Establishing such rules builds scenarios with certain implications that help the team see meetings as a serious commitment whose neglect does not go unpunished. If you don’t believe us, calculate how much it will cost you to feed 10 people for 4 days.
2. Aim for perseverance
The Monday meetings in question are not in vain – we hold them at the beginning of the week to make sure that we’re all on the same page. Have regular meetings for the whole team in order to build a habit of presence. Exceptions are made for one-off meetings on private cases or problems.
3. Justify a specific goal
The team should always know why they are getting together. Without a specific purpose and direction, the meeting can quickly become an aimless and unproductive social gathering.
4. Choose – discussion or information
You don’t want the product photo shoot meeting to turn into a foreign markets discussion now, do you? Determine at early stage whether the meeting purpose is to submit analyzed data or to discuss a recent proposal. Not only does it set the right tone, but it also saves time.
5. Decide who will take part
Is the art director needed at the operations team’s meeting? Some conversations can only weight down a person instead of actively involve him in the discussion. Choose your attendees carefully.
6. Have a plan
The purpose of team meetings is to be as useful as possible, taking a minimum amount of your time. Prepare a timetable indicating how many minutes will be spent on each topic and forward it to all participants in advance. Let it embody the focus and purpose of the specific team meeting.
7. Arm yourself with a positive state of mind
We have previously said that problems are best dealt with when working with people. Bad mood doesn’t actually help you get along better with your colleague, does it? Join every team meeting not expecting an annoying obligation, but considering what you can learn from it.
8. Put all phones aside
Also any other piece of tech that can distract you during the meeting. Nobody likes to be interrupted by a sudden ring. Especially when coming from a device that doesn’t belong to him.
9. Appoint a moderator
Perhaps the most important person in every team meeting. His role is to keep track of whether everything is on schedule and whether someone accidentally deviates from the subject. Choose a different moderator every time – this assigns equal responsibility and helps you look at things from different angles.
10. Start and finish on time
The current meeting is not your only commitment to the day. Assign the moderator to keep track of the watch and prevent anyone from delaying their minutes. Make your time count.
11. Encourage participation
Nobody wants to spend two hours just listening and nodding. Encourage your colleagues to comment on discussed issues. That way you’ll show them that you appreciate their presence and the time they spend for you.
At the last team meetings, one of our colleagues explained in detail how and why Bulgarian sweet rolls are the sweetest. This was not only interesting but also quite relaxed and predisposing to the next stage of the conversation. Don’t be afraid to break familiar models – even if they work flawlessly.
13. Summarize what has been done and what will be done
At Escreo’s Monday meetings each participant has two basic goals – to summarize what he has done over the past week and what he intends to do during the current one. Don’t take it as a military report or something. Instead, aim not just to introduce the others to your work, but also to get recommendations and opinions on urgent tasks.
14. Distribute responsibilities
Everyone should be aware of their role during the meeting – whether they are just an observer, a mediator or an active participant. Who should prepare in advance and who should choose the meeting place. Don’t leave anything to chance.
15. Praise someone
Another rule we have in our team – each of us should praise one of the others for something he had done last week. It can be either a completed task or a worthy behavior in stressful situation.
16. Have fun
No one says that all your meeting should look alike. Male use of the good weather and take it outside. Or suggest that everyone should wear red if the meeting is held on Thursday. The limits are set only by your imagination.
17. Submit a summary
Let the moderator send a summary to everyone after the meeting ends. So nothing will be missed or neglected. Use it as a checklist next time to see if everyone has done what they promised last time.
And most importantly, meetings are not an end in themselves. Only a meaning. Hold them only when it’s really necessary. Two heads may think better than one, but six heads can get a headache.