We all know how frustrating it can be to attend an unproductive meeting and frankly, most of them are due to a lack of preparation and a clear purpose. But what if there was an easy way to make meetings more effective, transparent and enjoyable? Well, we’ve got good news for you! From setting a clear agenda to encouraging participation, there are plenty of ways to make sure your meetings run smoothly and efficiently. In this blog post, we’ll cover the secrets of running the most effective meetings. Let’s get started!
What is an effective meeting?
This may seem like a silly question and we may all have different answers. We’ll define in this section what an effective meeting looks like to us so you can decide if this is the kind of information you’re looking for.
A productive meeting for us has 2 parts:
- A clearly defined objective—What is the problem we’re aiming to solve in the allotted time and what is the desired outcome?
- The solution—after the problem is succinctly laid out, your team jumps in to brainstorm and solve the problem. By the end of the meeting, one of the solutions has been chosen, next steps have been established and one or more team members have taken To-Dos to turn the solution into action.
Note: We use our meeting software to bring these points to life during meetings. Features such as clearly defined, timed agenda sections, automated meeting minute summaries in our inboxes, To-Do and Issues sections to get aligned quickly, and more help to keep us on track.
What makes most meetings a drag?
Lack of preparation is the leading cause of unproductive meetings. Without an agenda or clear objectives, meetings can quickly become a waste of time. It’s meetings where everyone shows up but no one knows why they’re there or how they can help; awkwardness ensues and nothing gets accomplished. So if you want to make sure your meetings are productive, take the time to plan ahead and set clear goals for what needs to be achieved. We’ll get into the how in just a second.
The potential of a meeting
The potential of a meeting is like a blank canvas, full of possibility and opportunity. Imagine yourself in a room surrounded by your team discussing the future of the company with passionate energy and enthusiasm with each person bringing their unique perspective to the table creating an atmosphere of collaboration and creativity. With the right people in the room, anything is possible—from launching a new product to changing the course of an entire industry and when it comes to meetings, the possibilities are truly endless. Let’s discuss how to make our meetings feel more like this paragraph…
The basics of a productive meeting
Here we’ll touch on the foundation pieces of a meeting and deep dive into how to bring each to life in the next sections.
- Purpose and agenda—Make sure everyone knows why they’re attending and what topics will be discussed.
- Attendees—Invite only those who need to be there to avoid distractions and confusion.
- Timing—Start on time and stay on track by sticking to the agenda. If conversations veer off-topic, bring them back to the main discussion points.
- Participation—Encourage participation from all attendees by holding small meetings, asking pointed questions and incorporating time into the beginning of your agenda for each person to check-in and get engaged.
- Conclusion—End the meeting with a summary of what was discussed, any decisions made and next steps that need to be taken before the next meeting takes place.
- Follow-up—Take notes during the meeting so that everyone is on the same page afterward, and assign tasks or action items as needed for follow-up after the meeting has ended.
Preparation is key to a successful meeting. Here are a few tips for defining the purpose of any meeting, plus a few tips on defining the purpose of project-specific meetings.
Questions to answer when defining the purpose for any meeting:
- What do you want to achieve?
- What is the problem that needs to be addressed?
- Why is this a priority right now and how urgent is this?
- What needs to be prepared ahead of time?
Bonus tips—Hosting a meeting about a project or a project kick-off call? Here are some specific tips on defining the purpose of a project, campaign, or event-specific meeting:
Try using a project plan to define the purpose of your meeting. In short, your project plan should answer the who, what, when, where, why and how of your project.
These questions and tips come from our marketing director, Megan Mayfield—the expert on writing project plans here at Bloom.
Things to include in your project plan:
- Project overview—Why are you creating this project? What is the overall goal? Are there any relevant or important resources to include?
- Important dates—These can be changed down the line but for the kick-off meeting it’s helpful to let your team know where your head is at. This also gives your team a chance to set expectations of capacity.
- Objectives—What outcomes are you looking for? What does each tactic hope to achieve? How will the different tactics be used? Which platforms and resources will be needed to complete the project?
- Project offer—What’s the benefit to the client? What does the client “get out of it”?
- Target audience—How many people? Who are they? Why did you choose them?
- Motivating factors—Why would someone care about this project? What will spur someone to take action?
- Mandatory information—Do any other departments need to know the details of this project?
- Communication methods—How are you launching this project? What channels will you use?
- Team members—Which team members will be required to complete this project?
- Detailed next steps—Document actionable next steps for the team to follow.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell
- List out each discussion topic or activity that needs to take place during the meeting in chronological order.
- Set a time limit for each topic and plan for breaks throughout the meeting if necessary.
- Include any attachments or materials that need to be shared with attendees before the meeting takes place so they have time to review them ahead of time.
- Share the agenda with all participants a few days prior to the meeting so they can review it and come prepared with questions or comments.
- Make sure there is enough flexibility so new topics can be added as needed, but keep it concise so that all topics can be discussed within a reasonable amount of time.
Questions to ask when determining stakeholders for a meeting:
- What is the timeline for this initiative?
- Who will be affected by the outcome of this meeting?
- What are the goals and objectives of the meeting?
- Who’s required to keep this moving forward?
- What resources are available to support this project or initiative?
- How will success be measured?
- Are there any potential conflicts of interest that should be considered?
- What’s the best way to communicate with stakeholders throughout the process?
- Are there any external factors that could affect the outcome of the meeting?
- Are there any risks associated with this project or initiative that should be addressed?
A timed agenda for your meeting is essential to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly and stays on track. Once you have the attendees, purpose of the meeting, and your agenda down, you should time each item of your agenda so that you can keep the meeting focused and productive. This will help prevent any discussions from going off-topic or taking up too much time. This can also ensure that every member gets a chance to respond. With a timed agenda, it’s easier to stay organized and make sure all important points are addressed during the meeting.
The Bloom Growth™ meeting software has a built-in meeting agenda with templates for different types of meetings. This software is designed to help you jump in and make actionable steps during meetings to reach your goals.
Encouraging participation in meetings is essential for ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard and that all ideas are considered. Here are some tips to help you encourage participation:
- Focus on keeping your meetings small to give everyone a chance to respond and participate.
- Build and distribute an agenda ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.
- Host regular, recurring meetings so everyone is familiar with the process and expectations.
- Start with icebreakers or exercises to get people engaged and comfortable speaking up.
- Ask other employees to present on topics they are knowledgeable about, as this will help them feel more involved in the meeting.
- Turn cameras on for virtual or hybrid meetings!
- Briefly lay out your marketing plan and be ultra-specific with what you need from the meeting members.
- Do something in the first 60 seconds of the meeting to grab people’s attention and keep them engaged throughout the discussion (e.g., share shocking statistics, anecdotes, or analogies).
The conclusion is one of the most important parts of a meeting, as it allows you to summarize the discussion and motivate people to take action. It’s also a great opportunity for recaping any decisions that were made during the meeting and providing clarity on how those decisions will be implemented.
To create an effective conclusion:
- Establish goals before the meeting and review them at the end
- Ask for questions or unclear points.
- Thank everyone for their contributions and provide positive motivation to move forward with the decisions that have been made.
- Ask each team member to read their To-dos gathered from the meeting.
By this time, you should have clear goals and objectives for your meeting defined. Members of your meeting should have taken clear To-dos to keep the project moving forward. We can not recommend Weekly Meetings enough for this purpose!
Our recurring Weekly Meetings are held at the same time, with the same people every week and consist of 7 regular parts. The timed agenda is displayed on the left side of the screen during our meeting, ensuring we stay focused and end on time.
Interested in having this for your team? Try a 30-day free trial!
Looking for more ways to shake up your meetings?
We’ve got more tips for you! Here are some unconventional ways to make meetings more dynamic.