How to have effective team meetings?

Your colleagues are still arguing on the conclusion you reached last week. It seems like the clock doesn’t tick-tak anymore. You feel like these were the most unproductive 60 minutes of your life. Most probably you have been in a similar situation as well. You are not alone!

According to Doodle (2019), professionals spend 2 hours per week in pointless meetings. Meanwhile, 37% of them consider these meetings as the biggest cost to their company.

But how did that come? For the world that we live in today, meetings are essential for maintaining the business operations and keeping in touch with your colleagues, as face-to-face communication is rarely possible. Hence, we cannot directly eliminate the team meetings out of our schedule, but we can make them more productive. Here’s how.

1. Reasons for unproductive meetings

Firstly, we have to look into the reasons behind an inefficient meeting in order to improve it. Unproductive meetings can be annoying for everyone, yet there are other activities that drive some of the participants even crazier. You can look into the picture below to see what Aston (2021) has found out regarding the factors of annoyance during team meetings.

Irritants in team meetings

Source: Aston (2021)

According to the results presented by Aston (2021), the participants are mainly annoyed when the others are interrupting or not listening to the group. However, the main reason for their frustration comes when someone is using their phone to send text messages or even respond to phone calls. Further, talking nonsense can be irritating to 46% of the interviewed people.

Lack of focus due to multitasking

Obviously, some of the activities that are mentioned in the picture above are caused by multitasking. For instance, eating during meetings or taking notes. Thus, multitasking can be considered as one of the reasons for unproductive conferences. But what are they actually doing while being at the meeting? Look in the results of the pie chart below.

Source: Aston (2021)

Lack of engagement

Another conclusion that can be made regarding the reasons for an unproductive meeting with an unpleasant experience, is that the lack of engagement can be irritating for many. Such activities include not paying attention to the others, demonstrating disrespect while eating or using your phone, or overall unwillingness to contribute. If someone is annoyed, most probably they will consider the conference to be an inefficient one.

One thing that we have to take into consideration is that especially during remote meetings, the lack of engagement can skyrocket. We believe that it is a crucial point nowadays as many companies have implemented distance collaboration. Therefore, remote teams should adapt some rules regarding the way of how a meeting is conducted in this case.

Lack of agenda

Last but not least, we have found out that the lack of agenda to follow is one of the factors that contribute to the inefficiency of a conference. That is simply because the essence of an agenda is to give clarity about what is discussed, for how long, etc, or in short to bring purpose to the meeting. Hence, it gives all of the required insights for everything to run smoothly during it.

2. Main rules of improving the efficiency of team meetings

Even though you may think that there is nothing significant to be done in order to improve the efficiency of your meetings, there are a few methods. The earlier you implement them, the sooner you will experience positive changes in the way a member behaves. Thus, to boost the efficiency of your team meetings, these two rules should be implied:

Create a clear agenda

Generally, agendas are guiding the conversation from the beginning to the end. Preparing one beforehand can save you some hurdles. For instance, forgetting an important aspect of the conversation is impossible, when having an agenda. Additionally, it allows you to measure the time needed for the meeting or whether it is necessary to even hold one. Further, it gives profound insights regarding the topics, thus, it is recommended to send it prior to the meeting to the relevant participants. Those may include clients, employees, suppliers, or any other stakeholder.

You can find relevant agenda templates, provided by Microsoft on this link.

Agenda for effective team meetings

Set up clear objectives

The other most important rule of having a productive meeting is to set up clear objectives for it. In this way, you will be able to predict the outcome, while also giving clarity to the other members. Further, it will serve as guidelines and motivation to your team to follow the objectives. These 6 questions may help you in setting up clear objectives for your next meeting:

  • What is expected to be discussed?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is the expected outcome of this meeting?
  • Should someone prepare something for it?
  • Who is responsible for holding the meeting?
  • Who is responsible for taking notes during the meeting?


Extra tips for your next meeting

This is a list of our extra tips for increasing the productivity of your next team meeting.

  • Only meet if necessary
  • Shorten the duration as much as possible
  • Set clear deadlines
  • Make a summary at the end of the meeting
  • Send a meeting recap
  • Only include relevant people
  • Set up a timeframe
  • Give some appreciation

To summarize, lack of focus, engagement, and agenda are the main reasons why many conferences fail to meet the expectations of the participants. To combat that, some rules should be applied. The main ones are to set up clear expectations, as well as having an agenda for each meeting.

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Aston, B. (2021, April 12). 11+ Meeting Statistics To Pay Attention To In 2021.
Project Manager News.

Doodle. (2019, May 2). The State of Meetings 2019. Doodle Blog.

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