Meetings are a staple of most employees’ work days. In fact, your average American spends about 33% of their time in meetings, and organizations as a whole have their teams in meetings about 15% of the time.
Employees feel all of those meetings are a great use of time, though. Employees feel that 70% of the meetings they attend are holding them back from doing productive work. Such ineffective meetings actually take a toll on your team psychologically and add to their workplace stress.
So the goal with meetings is to hold effective meetings that move projects forward, lead to employee development, and add something valuable to your team’s day. Learning how to master each type of meeting will help you all get the most out of that shared time.
How to Prep for a Meeting
To start, let’s go over a few tips on how to prep for any type of meeting.
For facilitators, it’s important to:
Give a Clear Purpose
If you know what the purpose of the meeting is and can communicate that, everyone knows why they are attending and can arrive ready to focus on the meeting’s goal.
Have Meeting Objectives
Meeting objectives are goals or outcomes you want to achieve during the meeting time. Having them prepped in advance, written down, and agreed upon will help you keep the meeting on track.
Send Out Advance Materials
If there’s something you want your team to be familiar with before the meeting, make sure they have at least a full work day to review and digest it before sitting down together.
Avoid Back-to-Back Meetings
Taking small breaks during the day improves employee morale and decreases fatigue. Without a breather in between meeting, that second conversation might not be as productive as you hoped it would be.
If you’re a meeting attendee, it’s a good idea to:
Review Provided Materials
If you’re supposed to have something read in time for the meeting, make sure you do that, so you’re getting the most out of the meeting.
Multitasking takes your attention away from the conversation at hand. Staying attentive will help you not miss anything that could help you and lead to development.
Nine Common Types of Meetings
How to prepare for a meeting — and the best use of your meeting time — depend on the type of meeting at hand. Learning to recognize the nine types of meetings can help you can get the most out of them.
- Team Building Meetings
Team building canimprove communication, boost motivation, and improve collaboration between coworkers. That’s a great reason to take time out of your day for team building meetings!
That being said, simply calling a get together a team building activity does not mean the team will actually bond during that time. There are several factors you need to assess in order to hold a meeting that will actually bring your team together.
For team building meetings, you typically want an entire department or a whole team.
The goal here is to foster team cohesion, trust, and collaboration. You want a team to become a team. Welcoming a brand new team member or launching a cross-departmental team for a new project are great times to hold these.
How do you execute a great team building meeting? Here are a few tips that can help you get started:
- Engage in team-building activities and exercises. Come prepared with some engaging team building activities that’ll really help your team get to know each other better. If games aren’t your thing, consider some team building questions that can help your team dig deeper and really get to know each other.
- Encourage open communication and active participation. Team building activities and questions only go as far as employees are willing to participate in them. This means it’s important to foster an environment of active participation. One way to do this is to ask every employee a question. Don’t just ask the whole group and wait for someone to respond — ask each person individually. You can also assign groups for activities, so no one feels left out.
- Set clear goals and objectives for the meeting. As with all meetings, it’s important to have a goal for the meeting. What do you want the team to learn about each other, or how will your trust in each other be greater after the meeting? Write it down so you can evaluate the meet’s success afterword.
2) Brainstorming Meetings
You need some fresh new ideas. Where better to find them than brainstorming meetings? These conversations help foster innovation and get the ideas flowing. Here’s how to make the most of them.
A brainstorming meeting should include all relevant stakeholders for whatever it is that you’re generating ideas. You might have a cross-functional team as well to ensure that you’re getting ideas from a variety of people and perspectives.
The goal of brainstorming meetings is to generate ideas, solve problems, or explore new opportunities. You might use one to kick off a project, to tackle a new challenge, or to come up with product and campaign ideas.
How do you hold an effective brainstorming session? Here are two tips to get you started:
- Create a supportive and creative environment. You won’t get fresh ideas if the creative juices aren’t flowing. A creative warmup can help everyone get into the right headspace before diving into a brainstorm. There are also a wide variety of online whiteboards and brainstorms programs for team members to write down their ideas and get engaged. The key is to give your team members space to explore and think outside the box.
- Establish clear guidelines for brainstorming sessions. Before you begin the conversation, go over the rules of engagement. These might include letting everyone speak without interruption, assigning a notekeeper, or letting everyone know there’s no idea too out there.
3) Quarterly Planning Meetings
Quarterly meetings are when you get together and set your goals for the next few months. These are important for many companies, so let’s look at some ways to boost your quarterly planning meetings to the next level.
You will likely invite the whole department or a whole project team, depending on the level of your quarterly goals.
The intention of a quarterly meeting is to set goals, define strategies, and allocate resources for the upcoming quarter. Quarterly planning meetings are a particularly good place to get on the same page when it comes to interdepartmental priorities.
Quarterly goals can create greater ownership and responsibility within your team. Here are a few tips to maximize results:
- Review previous performance and analyze data. It’s pretty hard to know how to set good goals for the next quarter if you don’t know exactly how the last quarter went. Before you hold the meeting, review your recent performance data. Then at the beginning of the meeting, review the relevant data and performance metrics with the team.
- Collaboratively set realistic and measurable goals. Consider setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). These will help you be able to achieve what you want while still pushing yourself. Setting these goals collaboratively can help your team have higher levels of engagement and performance.
- Define action plans and assign responsibilities. Make sure everyone’s on the same page with who’s responsible for what.
4) Decision-Making Meetings
A decision-making meeting is when you need a group of people to formally make a big decision and agree on an action plan to move forward. What these decisions are will vary from organization to organization.
These meetings should involve all relevant stakeholders and the key decision makers.
Your goal here is to make critical decisions and reach a consensus. Ideally, your team also creates a clear plan for the next steps.
So how do you execute a great decision-making meeting? Here are a few ways:
- Clearly define the decision to be made. Right up front, it’s good to make sure everyone knows what decision is being made and why that decision is important.
- Gather relevant information and viewpoints. Before you present information on the decision, make sure you have all the relevant information and viewpoints that should be taken into account. Then in the meeting, share this information with the team.
- Encourage open discussion and facilitate the decision-making process. Like with brainstorming meetings, try to encourage open discussion. Consider establishing some guidelines (like no interrupting each other) and assigning a notetaker. Guide the team through the decision-making process, and don’t leave the meeting without establishing clear understanding of the final outcome.
5) Quarterly Review Meetings
Quarterly review meetings give you set time to evaluate results, celebrate successes, and remove barriers for the future. These reviews can help inform quarterly planning meetings by examining the successes and failures of the past quarter. After all, it’s hard to know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.
Typically, you’ll invite your whole department or project team that worked together over the course of the past quarter.
The goal of these meetings is to evaluate progress on big goals, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate achievements.
Here are a few tips to help your next quarterly review meeting go smoothly:
- Review performance against goals and targets. You likely have goals for the quarter and have goals for the year. These meetings are a great chance to check in on how your performance compares to those benchmarks. Consider going through this information yourself before the meeting and then presenting the most relevant information to the team.
- Discuss challenges and successes. Challenges need time for everyone to share ideas on how to overcome them, but don’t forget to take time to celebrate successes!
- Develop strategies for improvement in the next quarter. Take the performance from last quarter and determine how you might improve that to meet your goals and overcome challenges.
6) Information Meetings
Sometimes the entire point of a meeting is to get everyone on the same page. That’s where information meetings come in.
You typically invite those relevant team members or stakeholders who will be impacted by the update. This can vary in scope, from a one on one meeting to a global town hall, depending on the information that will be shared.
The goal here is to share updates, announcements, or important information with the people who need to hear it.
So if you’re holding an information meeting, here are some tips to help it be an effective use of time:
- Prepare and organize the information to be presented. Before you have the meeting, take time to prepare and organize the information in a way that’ll make it easy for your meeting participants to take it all in.
- Use clear and concise communication techniques. Information meetings should be as short as you can make them since there isn’t collaboration involved. So try to keep it concise, but ensure that you’re communicating clearly.
- Provide an opportunity for questions and clarification. Very often, people are going to have questions about the information, so make sure they have an opportunity to clarify.
7) Problem-Solving Meetings
Problem-solving meetings are held to find a solution to a specific problem. It could also be part of an incident response, or to rectify an ongoing issue, such as inefficient workflows.
For this type of meeting, you should bring in any team members involved with the problem in any way.
The goal with this meeting is to analyze challenges, brainstorm solutions, and make decisions about what’s coming next.
So here are a few tips for making the most of a problem-solving meeting:
- Define the problem statement and its impact. To start, coming prepared with a problem statement and the impact of the problem can help situate everyone and emphasize the importance of the meeting.
- Encourage open discussion and active participation. Great ideas can come from unexpected places, so open discussion and participation can be key. You might need to call on everyone individually for any ideas.
- Collaboratively develop and evaluate potential solutions. Teamwork is key here. You’ll want to have everyone work together to find solutions. Unlike with brainstorming sessions, you’ll want to eliminate ineffective solutions quickly, so you’re not wasting time on an idea that’s not going to solve the problem.
8) Update Meetings
If you’ve got a team working on a project, you might want to hold a meeting with them to see how things are going. That’s an update meeting, and these can often feel like time drags if the only information communicated is already available in your project management systems. Here’s how you can use these conversations to move the object forward instead.
This will depend on the complexity of the project or level of update. If you are working on a project across departments, for example, you can have an update meeting attended by all participants to discuss major updates. You can also have an update meeting between, say, just the sales and webex teams if the update is only relevant to the portion of the project on which they’re both working.
The goal here is to share progress updates, status reports, or project milestones.
So how do you pull off a great update meeting? Here are our best practices:
- Prepare concise and informative updates. Anyone who’s responsible for updates should be given ample time to prepare information. It’s also beneficial to communicate that these updates should be focused and informative.
- Provide an opportunity for questions and clarification. Even after all the updates, it’s great to have time for questions, so everyone can leave the meeting on the same page.
- Ensure the meeting stays focused on relevant updates. Keep the meeting focused, and try to keep it only as long as necessary.
9) One-on-One Meetings
Not every meeting needs to be a group event! One-on-one meetings can actually be one of your most powerful productivity tools.
The participants will be just you and your teammate.
One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity to provide feedback, address concerns, set goals, and foster professional growth. Since these can be used for so many things, it’s important to have a clear intention before the conversation begins.
Get the most out of your one-on-ones with these tips:
- Prepare an agenda to guide the meeting's topics. Just because the meeting’s smaller, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an agenda to guide you and help you make the most of the time.
- Encourage open and honest conversation. One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity for dialogue where you and your teammate can spend time having a conversation about their performance, goals, and growth.
- Offer support and resources for the employee's development. Resources are a great way to help show your team you prioritize their growth and development.
Creating a Culture of Engagement with Gympass
Meetings don’t need to be busy work or a waste of time. They can be awesome and a powerful tool for developing your team. Meetings for newer team members can be especially crucial because they can help themfind mentors and acclimate to the company culture.
The most effective meetings are completed by engaged attendees. Supporting employee wellbeing overall allows each team member to focus on the matter at hand, making every moment more impactful.
Build a workforce that is always able to focus and collaborate. Talk to a wellbeing specialist today!
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The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.