Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the professional world, being able to lead a meeting is an important skill. Conducting a meeting allows us to collaborate with our team, which is extremely important in today’s business world. However, meetings often get a bad reputation for being a waste of time. This can happen for a number of reasons, but is primarily due to lack of preparation. Let’s review a few key ingredients to leading a successful meeting.
- Be Prepared – Make an agenda, and spend time preparing for your meeting. Even if you only have a few items to cover, write them down and spend a few minutes to review them prior to the meeting. This is valuable because it puts you in the right mindset, and gives you the confidence to lead the meeting. Of course there will always be impromptu meetings that you can’t prepare for, but make these the exception to the rule.
- Time – Be respectful of everyone’s time. You owe it to your team to be punctual and start the meeting on time. Likewise, we all have busy schedules, so make sure the meeting doesn’t run longer than originally scheduled. Being prepared and making your agenda will help with scheduling and understanding how much time you need.
- Keep the meeting on-task – It’s your job to communicate effectively, and cover the entire agenda. If a particular topic is consuming too much time, table it and come back to it. Meetings are often frustrating when they veer off topic and don’t cover the intended material.
- Content – It’s important to have all the artifacts ready for your team prior to the meeting. If you’re sharing your agenda with everyone, have enough copies printed and ready to go. It may also be appropriate to send electronic copies of documents or presentations prior to the meeting. Regardless of the content, make sure everyone has what they need for your meeting.
- Avoid distractions – Being a good listener is a key trait to being a good leader. Remaining engaged and avoiding distractions during meetings is a challenging tasks in today’s world. It’s far too easy to check email during meetings in an attempt to multi-task. Set a good example and avoid these distractions, further proving that you’re committed to your team.
- Audience – Get the right people at the table. Again, going through the exercise of preparing your agenda should spell out pretty clearly who needs to be there. Be careful not to over invite either. Having too many people in a meeting can make it difficult to maintain productive conversation.
- Give everyone a chance to speak – We’ve all been in those meetings where it seems like one person does all the talking, meanwhile the others in the room are waiting patiently for their opportunity. Don’t be afraid to politely say, “Thank you for your input, but I’d like to allow some time for others to weigh-in as well.”
- Know your environment – If you have a digital presentation, do your research to know what technology is available (computer, projector, etc.). Get there a few minutes early to setup and load your presentation.
- Action items and meeting minutes – wrap up your meeting by summarizing any action items that came up during the meeting. Additionally, send out some brief meeting minutes afterwards for everyone to reference.
Meetings are your opportunity to interact and build relationships with your coworkers. As a leader, your role is crucial to the success of the meeting. Show your commitment to your team by taking some time to make a plan. Be respectful of everyone’s time, keep the meeting on-task, and keep everyone engaged and your time spent together is sure to be productive.