Meetings. Most people dread them. Whether they are in person in a conference room, as is more often the case right now online via Zoom, or even the increasingly popular walking meetings (which is a way to add some social distance to an in person meeting in the post COVID-19 workplace) most people do not – to put it mildly – look forward to them.
But meetings can be better, if you take on board and implement some of the following tactics. People may still not be joyful at the prospect of attending them, but the groans maybe a little quieter, and something might actually get done.
Set a Timer
Everyone has had the experience of a conversation running off the rails in a meeting. Running over time may seem like a small digression in the moment, but it snowballs. Eventually topics get bumped and new meetings have to be called to cover everything you didn’t have time for previously. And so nothing gets done.
Your timer should cover both the meeting as a whole and each individual speaker, including yourself.
Start Sharing the Stage
You may be the official meeting lead, but learning to start sharing the stage at every meeting will help make sure that more is achieved and more voices are heard.
Get into the habit of splitting each meeting into subtopics led by different members of the team. Don't choose these subtopics for the sake of letting so-and-so speak though, chose them based on relevance to the larger team and the goals you are going after.
Additionally, when a person is speaking, request that they break up their own monologue to ask people in the meeting for their (brief) input.
Meetings are far too often an extrovert's opportunity to shine and an introvert's opportunity to sit in the corner and type quietly to themselves. It's up to you as a team leader to change that, and pull everyone into the meeting. All the previous points help do that, but ensuring you know who the people are who tend to be silent and finding a way to draw them out is a must, even if it is as simple as just calling on them to speak.
Tie Meetings to Team Goals
One of the reasons people dislike any type of meeting is that they eat up time that, in their minds, could be better spent doing something else. In other words, they fail to see the point of them. If you are going to call a meeting make sure it's clear what the short and long term benefits to the team are. That way, people are likely to be engaged in attending them.
Call Fewer Meetings
Not all meetings need to happen at all. Too often certain meetings become 'tradition' and persist long after they could have been replaced with an email or a carefully placed note in a collaborative work tool like Asana or Trello. Review your meeting schedule, and remove any that really don't need to be held at all.