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DevOpsGroup Blog 9 Ways to Make Every Meeting Effective!

9 Ways to Make Every Meeting Effective!

Written by Agile Coach, Georgie Hopkinson

We’ve all been to our fair share of soul-crushing meetings. We need to make a stand to stop these from happening!

Below I’ve created a list of 9 Top Tips to make every meeting effective, I’m a firm believer in getting the best out of every meeting and making them as productive as possible!

1. Have a clear objective

Know what the objective of your meeting is and focus on delivering it. Make it clear and concise, for example, ‘The objective of this meeting is to decide whether to use physical or electronic work in progress boards.’ Be transparent about why you’re having this meeting.

Once you have this objective, make it clear to all those attending, you could do this by including it in your calendar invite, and remind everyone of it again at the start of the meeting.

2. State your intent

At the start of the meeting, state what it is you intend to happen over the next 60 minutes. For example, ‘I intend to hear each of your thoughts and opinions, so that we can make a shared decision.’

Now everyone knows what your objective is, and what is expected of them. Being open and honest about your intent will also help people to build their trust in you.

3. Time-box

Now you need to make sure that the meeting stays focused and on track. The best way to do this is to time-box, i.e. allocate time to specific topics or discussions. This is also a great technique for keeping people engaged.

I always like to leave 15 minutes at the end of a meeting to have a quick round-the-room. Check in with each individual if they have any other thoughts or questions. Some people are far more vocal than others, ensure that everyone knows that you value their opinions and you want them each to have the opportunity to share their thoughts.

4. Get the right people in the room.

It’s important that you have all the right people in the room, but it’s also important that you don’t involve people who can’t contribute as these will lower the mood. If you want a passionate and enthusiastic meeting where you make decisions, only invite those who can help you do that!

Also, ask those that can’t attend to send an empowered delegate in their place.

5. Get creative

Now is your opportunity to make this meeting one that people enjoy. There are loads of techniques online, but I always find that post-it notes, and sharpies are a good place to start. Make sure everyone actively participates in the session. I also encourage everyone to stand up around a board, not only does this get people more involved, it also helps to speed up the meeting!

6. Make time to plan this stuff!

As you can already tell, there are pre-requisites to having a great meeting. Make sure you take time to plan what the objective will be, what the intent is and what your time box’s will be. As you get in the habit of doing this, it shouldn’t take long. If it isn’t obvious what some of these answers are, then why are you having this meeting in the first place? Don’t have a meeting for the sake of it.

7. Take a break!

If your meeting is longer than an hour, I recommend that you take a short 5 minute break every hour. It will help to reduce tension and keep everyone relaxed and engaged. We all need a breather to stretch our legs, grab a drink, have a toilet break and re-engage our minds. If you want the best of people, then don’t make it torture for everyone involved!

8. Leave your assumptions at the door

I know it can be difficult but try not to lead the discussions to a decision that favours you. This will be obvious to everyone in the room, and people won’t feel as though their thoughts are valued. Leave your assumptions at the door and invite everyone in the room to create a shared pool of knowledge. (Give ‘Crucial Conversations’ a read if you want to hear more about how to do this.)

9. Summarise!

Last, but by no means least, give a brief summary of what you’ve learned or decided from this meeting. This will help to ensure that everyone leaves the meeting with a clear and shared understanding. It also gives people the opportunity for further clarification if that wasn’t the summary they were expecting. Remember, if you want any change to be a success, then you need to make sure there is a shared understanding.

It really is as simple as that!

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