Running Effective Meetings - Docket

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“Docket has quickly become essential to doing our best work at Studio Science. Meetings are critically important to the services we provide clients, and having a platform dedicated to making meetings more effective, collaborative, and structured is game changing.”

Steve Pruden, CEO at Studio Science

“Docket helps us build better agendas, easily share notes, and follow up on action items. We have noticed our meetings have better preparation and follow through since partnering with Docket.”

Roger Deetz, VP of Engineering at Springbuk

Running Effective Meetings

Leading meetings can be daunting for anyone from the introvert to the experienced leader but most everyone has had the opportunity to lead sessions or discussion in some capacity. While anyone can take the baton and direct a meeting, running effective meetings requires an additional level of effort that not everyone is willing to put in. While this effort may seem large, effective meeting strategies that require planning, organization, and preparation eventually lead to conducting effective meetings as a habit

“Conduct Meeting” meaning, when one organizes and carries out the meeting can appear, at a glance, to all fall on the meeting organizer or leader. In order to conduct an orchestra, the conductor must study the music, prepare the musicians, and help them learn to work together to create the beautiful music. The conductor isn’t making the music by themselves. They are merely establishing expectations and bringing the musicians together to achieve the work they set out to do. Similarly, strategies for conducting effective meetings or strategies for leading effective meetings should be carefully studied, shared, and applied with those participating in your meetings so you can equip everyone with an understanding and guide them to success.

Planning

The very step to leading effective meetings is planning. Avoid having meetings about meetings and put a little effort in up front to prepare for the meeting. If this is your first time running a meeting, there are lots of good tips that detail how to hold a meeting, such as how to run a meeting template or how to run a meeting book so you know how to conduct a meeting step by step. But better meetings can be held with a little more common sense and preparation.

According to Harvard Business Review, running effective meetings may be as simple as using design thinking. This means putting the user first in your meeting process and determining what should be done in order to understand:

  1. Who will be present and what do they need?
  2. Who will not be present but will be affected by the meeting?
  3. What are potential challenges and opportunities?

Create a meeting preparation template or meeting checklist template with meeting preparation tips including these questions and use this as the baseline for any meeting you are tasked with leading. 

Scheduling

Once you have an understanding of the audience and purpose, consider who should be present and find an optimal time and location. If the meeting will be recurring and hosts attendees from multiple locations, creating a meeting schedule template can be useful to identify schedule gaps and conflicts. Schedule as early as possible to have more dates and times to choose from.

Preparing

As a meeting leader, preparing is not just for your sake but for the sake of the attendees. Depending on the types of meeting you will lead, how you prepare and what you prepare can differ. For example, if you will be leading a staff update meeting, you might create a simple meeting agenda template doc or a weekly team meeting agenda template that can be reused over and over again, simplifying the upfront effort you and your team must put in to prepare for the meeting. In contrast, in leading a business review meeting, you may want to create a formal meeting agenda template that requires more preparation and detail and guides you on how to conduct a formal meeting. Any meeting structure template you create should be flexible to accommodate modifications that are applicable to each session.

An effective meeting agenda will establish the meeting goal or purpose and limit the number of items in the time frame allotted to avoid meeting creep. Productive meeting guidelines will differ on what the optimal amount of agenda items should be due to the fact content, people, environment, and other factors are unknown. But as you get to know the audience you are leading, update your meeting guidelines template to document factors that help you determine meeting to meeting what the average number of agenda items should be.

Sharing

In some cases, collaboration in the agenda process is necessary, whether it be for subject matter expertise, availability to plan, or providing leadership opportunities for others to lead as well. Be open to collaboration to enable others to help you but always keep in mind you are needed to guide the format and discussion in which you should always review meeting agendas contributed to by others.

Sharing the agenda is a must. Everyone is busy and multitasks so giving meeting guests time to review and prepare is one of the most effective meetings guidelines.

Leading

After all the planning and preparation, it is finally time to lead effective team meetings! One of the best ways to do this is be an example of being on time, starting on time, and ending on time.

In some cases such as a work meeting, it may be necessary or useful to share meeting ground rules, funny or informative, to either lighten the mood or ensure the session will be as productive as possible. When using a leadership meeting agenda template, it is ideal to have this as an agenda item at the beginning of the session on a regular basis to ensure anyone new is introduced to the regular meeting format and expectations.

In addition, you have had the most time to think about the meeting’s purpose so set the tone for the meeting by sharing a brief recap of the purpose so that anyone walking in that has to switch meeting context has a moment to wrap their head around why they are in your meeting.

Capturing

During the meeting, seek others to help contribute and document what is learned to be important. Resources such as an effective meeting strategies .pdf and meeting essentials .pdf should guide your meeting to determine what needs to be done, assign ownership for transparency, and commit to reasonable dates so everyone understands the commitments being made.

Sharing (Again)

When the session is over, it is time to review the output and check for accuracy. An effective meetings .pdf or conducting effective meetings .pdf should include this step so that the correct information including key take-aways, decisions, actions and tasks, ownership and due dates are accurately portrayed. Your meeting checklist .pdf should also include a step for sharing the recap to attendees and those who would benefit from the meeting output. 

Teaching

Because running effective meetings takes effort, it is critical to create resources and enable others to learn and avoid recreating the wheel. Create a running effective meetings checklist, share a business meeting agenda sample or business meeting .pdf, how to run a meeting .pdf, how to conduct a meeting .pdf, or conducting effective meetings .ppt to track your discoveries and make them accessible to those you want to influence in better meeting practices. While meeting best practices can be common sense to one person, to another, it may seem overwhelming. Create a meeting checklist template Excel, a meeting checklist template Word, offer running effective meetings training, or use a meeting tool like Docket to provide templates, structure, and best process so that everyone can benefit and run effective meetings.