For many companies, 2021 means business as usual - despite starting the year in a national lockdown. Whether your teams are in the office together (albeit sat a bit further apart!) or your meetings are being held virtually, there’s plenty of things you need to consider to ensure your employees get the most out of every meeting. Zoom fatigue is real - so we’ve shared our top tips to ensure maximum productivity. Our team are experts in planning meetings and conferences, so if you need a helping hand, we'd love to give you some assistance.
1. Set an agenda
If there’s one rule that should ALWAYS be adopted, it’s this: Never host a meeting without an agenda. Your colleagues time is valuable, and it’s likely they have plenty of other things on their to-do list! Make sure you set strict time limits, dictate the objective of the meeting early on, and ensure everyone knows what is expected of them beforehand; so you can, condense your conversation down to the topics that really matter. Similarly, offer others the opportunity to suggest agenda items - increasing ownership and encouraging participation.
2. Have a great leader
It’s important to ensure you have someone in the meeting who is accountable for timekeeping and achieving the set objectives. They should also be able to read the room; ensuring people are engaged, conversation stays on track, and that everyone has a chance to speak out if they want. Similarly, always offer the opportunity for attendees to feed back afterwards; you may feel like your meeting has gone exceptionally, but others may simply view it as a waste of time.
3. Start off with positives that are engaging and interactive
Zoom meeting can be hard work at the best of times, and even in-person meetings can feel like a chore if they're not managed properly. Set the tone at the beginning of the meeting by starting off with something positive to lighten the atmosphere.
A simple way of doing this could be to ask how people’s weekends were, what the weather is like where people are, or how home schooling is going this week. These are simple and light questions that allow employees to engage with one another and share an insight into their week or day that are fun and non-work related, before diving headfirst into agendas and action points. By getting employees engaging with one another, we’ve found they’re much more likely to begin contributing once the meeting starts – think of it as an ice breaker! We can also recommend a number of teambuilding ideas if you're planning a meeting that will last several hours.
4. Ask people to contribute individually
It’s widely expected in the world of work that your team members should be good at working in groups; whether you’re trying to come up with new ideas, resolve a problem or teach them new skills. However, research actually shows quite the opposite, and many employees actually perform better alone.
Have you considered that many of your team might not feel comfortable at the thought of expressing their ideas in front of a large group, or that they may just agree with others because they don’t want to be the centre of attention? This is particularly prevalent in the age of virtual meetings - where social cues and body language are hard to decipher. Give your colleagues the opportunity to submit their thoughts and ideas beforehand and understand that not everyone works best in groups - a mix of individual and group activities tend to produce the best results.
5. Invite less people
Ask yourself - do these people REALLY need to attend this meeting? Meetings with too many stakeholders can easily go off on a tangent; particularly if you’re trying to make an important decision. Too many stakeholders can also limit productivity, and certain attendees may dominate conversations. Often, a brief summary by email will suffice.
6. Schedule less meetings
In a world where it’s easier to ‘jump on a hangout or zoom’ than sending an email, employee’s calendars are becoming stacked up with virtual and in-person meeting invitations. When attending a meeting pre-pandemic, colleagues may have spent time preparing for their meetings they had this week. Nowadays when there’s a meeting for everything, colleagues don’t know what’s an important meeting to prepare for and what meetings could have been an email before logging on.
Make sure your employees know they need to prepare and engage in meetings by only scheduling the meetings that matter. If it would have been a meeting pre-pandemic, then keep it as a meeting. If it can be resolved or discussed via email or internal messaging systems, then keep it short and sweet.
7. Summarise at the end of the meeting
At the end of the meeting, summarise the main points for people to take away. Highlight the key actions that should follow the meeting including the person/s who are responsible for each action. This could be done by the minute-taker or you would ask each participant to summarise their action points to ensure each person fully understands their responsibility.
We find this really useful for productivity after the meeting as well as ensuring each person feels the meeting itself has been productive in producing further actions.
8. Send follow up information
If important details are being discussed during the meeting, make sure you ask someone to take notes and distribute the information afterwards. This will ensure that your team members can be fully engaged throughout and will also give them the opportunity to expand on their ideas at a later date. Similarly, is stops any ambiguous interpretations of the meeting outcome, ensuring everyone is aligned on actions required moving forwards.
If you’re planning an in-person or virtual corporate event, our team would love to help. We work closely with event organisers to ensure that they host valuable, productive and engaging meetings for their teams. Whether its small internal meetings or larger meetings/conferences, we have the knowledge to ensure it’s a success and runs smoothly. Get it touch today to find out about how we can assist you.