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Anxious about meetings? Learn how to run a meeting with these 10 tips

April 1, 2022 - 11 min read

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How to know when a meeting is necessary

What defines a successful meeting?

10 tips to run an effective meeting

What about online meetings?

Start meeting with purpose

We don't need to tell you: meetings can be painful when they aren't done right. 

We’ve all been in meetings that seem to drag on. We’ve also probably been in circular meetings that feel like nothing effective was accomplished. Running an effective meeting is both a skill and an art. 

Now that we're remote, or hybrid, the skill and art have changed. And making good use of everyone's time might be even more important. 

To find that happy balance, we need to effectively run a meeting. What’s the appropriate amount of time that a meeting should last? Should there be note-takers? What are the goals and objectives? Here are a few questions you should answer to prepare for an effective meeting.

But before we learn how to conduct a good meeting, we need to discuss the need for meetings themselves.

How to know when a meeting is necessary

Many team members who work remotely think that most of their meetings could have been an email, phone call, or even a group Slack message. 

Deciding what does and doesn’t need an actual meeting can be tricky. It's common to believe that we have to check in with people by holding meetings. We like to see each other face-to-face and hear each other's voices. 

If you need to discuss something you're not sure if it's worth a meeting or not, try writing a draft of an email that you would send about the topic. If you're a strong communicator and can get to the point within a short paragraph, it’s a good sign that you don't need to call a team meeting. 

If the topic you need to discuss needs to be done by a group working collaboratively, it could demand a meeting. Or if it's time-sensitive and you need to give instructions fast and clearly, you could need to call a team meeting.

Regardless of the meeting’s length, it needs to have a purpose. What are you trying to achieve with this meeting? If you don't clearly define the goal, you're more likely to waste time and lose track of your meeting agenda.

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What defines a successful meeting?

A successful meeting reaches a conclusion that leaves meeting participants with a better understanding of approaching their work or a clear resolution of the problem. Depending on the type of meeting you’re running, so long as the purpose and objective are met, your team members can leave feeling more informed. 

Great meetings cover all agenda items efficiently and without fail. Meeting participants' questions should be answered during the session or a follow-up period afterward. 

Successful meetings also take up an appropriate amount of time, and they don't go into too much detail or leave out too many details. Productive meetings don't have to last for hours or have any fancy props. But they do need to grab the attention of the meeting participants and communicate why it's important that they met.

Organizing a successful meeting requires strong communication, leadership, and organizational skills. If you're not there yet, that's okay. With BetterUp, you can get access to one-on-one coaching to help boost your skills, confidence, and mental fitness.

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10 tips to run an effective meeting

The meeting you're going to run today is likely different from the next one you’ll run tomorrow. Depending on the topic, how many people are there, and how much you have to speak, you might need to prepare more. 

Here are 10 tips to implement next time you have a meeting:

  1. Create a template for your meeting ahead of time.
  2. Put a time limit on it if team members are busy.
  3. Summarize your decisions at the end. 
  4. Pick a meeting room that can hold everyone that attends.
  5. Have someone be a note-taker in case people miss it or need a refresher. Reminding your team of the final decision in an email is a good way to loop everyone back in.
  6. Start with some icebreakers if there are new team members.
  7. Make sure your body language is confident and expresses what you're conveying. 
  8. Pause to have a brainstorming session when you discuss a problem.
  9. Allow for feedback at the end and listen to what the meeting participants have to say.
  10. Change up your facilitator to allow other team members to develop their skills.

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What about online meetings?

It's one thing to know how to run a board meeting in person, but running one entirely online is a different story. The resources you might have been comfortable using could be useless. Running a meeting online can be as successful as your in-person meetings — if not better. 

Here are a few tips on how to make your online meetings pop:

Stick to a routine

People like to have a set routine to know what their days look like and how to schedule the rest of their time. Your team members could be working in different time zones since they’re working remotely.

To avoid confusion, establish a routine for your meetings. Team members can be more prepared when they have a consistent schedule of what time they happen, what platform they are on, and what to expect from the meeting. Using a recurring Google meeting with a set weekly agenda is a great idea. 

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Have stand up meetings when possible

Transitioning to remote work can be difficult because we're so used to having quick, passing chats with them in the office to check in on their progress. If you still want to keep this up, try doing stand-up meetings. They only take 15-20 minutes and can be a great way to go around to each meeting participant and see how they're doing.

Stand-up meetings help you listen to everyone but in a quick fashion. As a leader in your office, you might have to learn how to conduct one-on-one meetings online with your team. 

Scheduling one-on-one meetings with your team members is a great way to check in, too. If you don’t have anything major to discuss, treat it like a water-cooler conversation. If there’s an issue, prepare for this meeting like you would any other.

Welcome mishaps and mistakes

Even though you can lay out all the ground rules and do your best to lead an effective meeting, online meetings sometimes involve some mishaps. Whether it's someone's dog who steals the spotlight or someone's mic cuts off, expect the unexpected. 

Even if you have a bad meeting, remember that you can take notes and improve for the next one.

Rather than punishing team members for their mistakes, take a moment to understand that working online isn’t easy for everyone. People may feel burnt out and fatigued, and anxiety and depression are amplified during certain times of the year or stressful life events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Next time someone’s screen freezes, understand that mistakes happen.

Fumbling over words or forgetting our action items are unavoidable mistakes for in-person meetings, too. Be patient with everyone. 

Start meeting with purpose

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The opportunity to lead a meeting can be exciting, which we can forget if we're too busy trying to make them successful. But they’re a great opportunity to share your ideas and what you've been working on, show your appreciation for others, or plan a going-away party for a coworker. 

Whatever the reason is for your meeting, you'll know to establish an objective, stay organized, and be inclusive towards the other meeting participants.

Finding someone who can guide you to being a future-minded leader can make a huge difference in your work. A BetterUp coach can help you develop the skills you need to be an effective, organized communicator and an even better leader.

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Published April 1, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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