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7 Steps to Running Meetings More Effectively

June 6th, 2024 • 11 min read
Blog Workplace Experience 7 Steps to Running Meetings More Effectively
Blog Workplace Experience 7 Steps to Running Meetings More Effectively

Running meetings can be a challenge since everyone seems to hate them. They are boring and time-consuming, producing no valuable outcomes, yet making participants suffer from a meeting recovery syndrome. This doesn’t change the fact that the amount of time spent in meetings has grown three times compared to the pre-pandemic level, with virtual gatherings adding massively to the load. Maybe, it’s time to take a different approach and start meeting productively, not frequently. Here is a 7-step checklist for your efficient meetings.

Step #1. What’s the Purpose of Your Meeting?

Haven’t you ever attended a meeting having no idea of what it is about? Congratulations, you are among 62% of workers who, based on Atlassian, happened to participate in a meeting without any prior information about its goals. Probably, you felt unprepared and quite useless, which hardly resulted in high engagement.

But if you are the person holding an event, you must have a clear understanding of expected outcomes. Do you want your team to generate fresh ideas on a challenging project? Do you need to assign new roles and communicate your requirements? Is this a follow-up meeting aimed at gauging efficiency? While answering these questions, you will also have a good opportunity to weigh whether you need to distract your colleagues from work at all since the same Atlassian report states that over 70% of workers believe that running meetings is not the most effective way to brainstorm, take decisions, or clarify goals.

Step #2. How to Collect the Right Team for Your Meeting

If you are sure that the objectives are meeting-worthy, decide which of your team members can make the biggest contribution and cut the list of participants to reasonable limits. Try to strike the right balance between diverse perspectives and meeting costs since, according to a report from, organizations can save about $25,000 per employee per year by reducing unnecessary meeting attendance.

Besides, it’s difficult to guide a crowd in the right direction, and you are sure to recall totally derailed events with the participants chatting, multi-tasking, or staying unengaged in the discussion because a facilitator couldn’t keep the situation under control. There is even a proven correlation between the size of a gathering and the time it consumes: based on Dialpad’s survey, meetings with 3-6 participants last 30 minutes, while events with 20+ people frequently take over 70 minutes. To make your meeting more effective, try to invite less than 7 people per facilitator.

You will also need to think about a conference room that can accommodate your team and book it in advance. With UnSpot, a robust office space management system, you can do it in a couple of clicks on any device, along with checking in via QR code scanning or sending a link for online participation.

Step #3. Making Your Meeting More Effective with a Clear Agenda

Running meetings without an agenda is like scrambling through a project without a plan, while 79% of respondents from the Atlassian report say that a clear agenda makes a meeting more effective. You can’t but agree with them since by learning the topics for discussion in advance, you can get prepared, find necessary information, and shape your opinion, ideas, or questions to better contribute to the meeting’s productivity.

An agenda will also help you get your meeting timing right and stay on track during the gathering. If the conversation strays from the set topics, you can jot down worthwhile ideas for your next discussion and steer the meeting on the right course. This is how you can ensure that the meeting won’t last longer than scheduled and you arrive at the intended results.
To craft a meeting agenda, think of decisions to be made or topics to be discussed, and then try to turn them into a set of questions. According to Steven Rogelberg, PhD, University of North Carolina Charlotte, this strategy makes meetings more effective since questions encourage people to start thinking and help understand whether a meeting yields the desired outcomes — a successful meeting leaves no questions unanswered.

When you are done with the agenda, make sure to include it in invitations sent to attendees. This will show them what to expect from the meeting and give them time to think about how they can contribute. You can also ask for feedback and entitle your team members to decline or offer another person if they feel they have nothing to bring to the table.

Step #4. Using Roles for Running Meetings Effectively

Almost one-third of the Dialpad survey’s respondents said that they don’t like meetings that drift away from their original agenda. That’s why you need someone responsible for leading the meeting and ensuring it doesn’t get off the topic. Besides, meetings that fail to engage are doomed to be unproductive, according to 62% of North American business leaders correlating strong meeting engagement with higher levels of productivity. Funny, but 38% of the respondents also admit they usually dominate discussions, thus offering little opportunity for others to speak out.

So, you definitely need a facilitator, and it might be better to assign different people for the role. By rotating facilitators, you will have more people involved in the meeting agenda and give a nice chance for less vocal team members to surface. Just instruct your facilitators about their responsibilities beforehand and explain other roles are to avoid any confusion.

Depending on your meeting goals, you might need to introduce other roles, such as:

  • a decision-maker — a manager who will decide which ideas should be taken on board and wrap up the meeting outcomes
  • a note-taker — a person responsible for capturing key decisions, ideas, and questions
  • a speaker — someone well-versed in the meeting topic to share important information with others

Clear roles result in more structured, engaging, and effective meetings, but do have them tailored to your meeting size and purpose.

Step #5. How To Run Meetings On Time

Some research suggests that meeting engagement declined after about 30 minutes, with over one-third of participants losing focus by 45 minutes into the meeting. You might even be the one starting to browse the web or texting on your phone instead of listening and participating when you feel the meeting lasts way too long. However, it doesn’t mean all meetings must fit in half an hour to be more effective. Robby Kwok, the Chief of Staff to the CEO at Slack, believes that strategy-focused meetings, discussions intended to solve really tough problems, and gatherings aimed at generating a wealth of ideas can perfectly take up to 90 minutes.

If you have little idea about how to run meetings without dragging out, you can use the following tip:

  • 15-30 minutes — regular team meetings and retrospective meetings
  • 30-60 minutes — brainstorming sessions and one-on-one talks
  • 60-90 minutes — strategy meetings and decision-making

Anyway, you should be mindful of the time to avoid employee fatigue and higher perceived workloads. Ask participants to arrive 5 minutes earlier if they need to connect to technology, and ensure to start your meeting on time. Assign another role, a time-keeper, to keep track of timely progress through the agenda, and don’t let the meeting go beyond the set timing. If you hold a longer meeting, provide breaks for attendees to refresh.

Step #6. Ending Your Meeting Right

If you have ever left a meeting feeling you don’t understand how it all ended up, you should reserve a 5-minute time slot at the end of the gathering to communicate key takeaways. Not only do you need to summarize the meeting’s outcomes but also define who has to do what to implement the decisions made. For one thing, this helps the participants realise that they haven’t wasted their time on a useless discussion with no progress and conclusion. Science says that more effective meetings translate into less recovery time required to get back to work after a gathering, so, by spotlighting the achievements and ending the conversation on a positive note, you can boost your team’s productivity.

Besides, a good meeting must result in actions assigned to specific workers and deadlines scheduled to get things done. For your team members to clearly understand their responsibilities, share notes that sum up action items through your corporate resources and make them easily accessible. You can also provide access to all meeting materials for those workers who haven’t participated, yet can benefit from them or contribute to the implementation.

Step #7. Have Feedback Collected After

Probably, there were occasions when you were surprised to learn that other people liked a meeting you didn’t enjoy. And maybe, the discussions arranged by you are not as good as you believe them to be. It will be helpful to find out what went wrong so that you can fix the issues and make your meetings more effective, especially if running meetings comes within your duties.

Collect feedback by asking the participants to highlight what worked well and what can be changed to get better results. You can ask just a couple of quick questions or create a survey covering the agenda, timeline, engagement, outcomes, and other aspects of your meeting.

Productive meetings do make a big difference, and if you learn how to run meetings effectively, you can positively impact your team or even the whole organisation, delivering tangible results, saving tons of working hours, and increasing job satisfaction.

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