Four Elements of Effective Meetings

We’ve all been in meetings that were completely draining. But when we think about why, it’s usually not because the topic was difficult or we were working particularly hard.
Instead, it’s usually poorly run meetings that leave us feeling depleted or that our time was wasted.

The good news is that there are some key strategies you can use to ensure you’re leading an effective and satisfying meeting. Here are four proven elements of effective meetings.

Have a Clear Agenda

Before you start a meeting, make sure you’ve set and communicated a clear agenda. Why is everyone in the same room? What are we hoping to accomplish?

Even for meetings that are more free-form or brainstorming sessions, it is still important to set a vision of what a successful outcome of that meeting would be and the allotted time. This provides the structure necessary to help everyone start from the same page.

Empower Attendees

Meetings are much more effective when everyone is invested in the meeting and feels that their opinion matters. This supports your team’s autonomy: their inherent psychological need to feel bought in and endorse what they do.

This can be done very simply by inviting participation throughout the meeting. For example, when decisions about next steps are being made, invite inputs by asking “What do we think is the best next step?” By inviting voices to be heard—and truly listening to participants’ inputs—you help to boost buy-in and empowerment.

If Emotions Run Hot

Sometimes emotions can run high when there are existing conflicts or people get passionate about their work. If this happens, the best thing you can do is to act as an emotional regulator and help to keep those emotions in check. You can do this by guiding the discussion towards the ideas at hand, and away from the people discussing them or any criticism of the speakers. This conveys care and respect for everyone involved.

Agree on Next Steps

Another key step many people miss in meetings is having an explicit discussion of takeaways and next steps at the end of a meeting. Making it clear what you accomplished, what is next, and who is responsible, prevents any confusion and uncertainty about the meeting and next steps. Over time, this will also help people enter future meetings with a sense of purpose and optimism.

Implementing these steps will help you run more successful and enjoyable meetings, and that will have spillover effects into more successful work. However, meetings are just one scenario in which our science-based approach can unlock better work experiences and performance.

If you want to learn more about how to support your employees in their work, including a deeper dive into running meetings, check out our online manager training course. The course covers everything from how to facilitate your employees’ intrinsic motivation and performance, to learning best practices for important topics such as goal setting, effective meetings, and managing burnout.

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