Effective Team Meetings

Having trouble getting your online team meetings as good as being in the room? Here’s 6 steps to get the whole team onboard to deliver the outcomes and actions that get the work done.

With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with social distancing rules limiting the numbers of people who can be in the workplace at the same time, many of us will continue to work outside the office for the forseeable future. Holding team meetings online or via the phone, are likely to become even more mainstream as we deal with the pandemic and embrace flexible work practices.

For teams working remotely, meetings are a lifeline. Done well, they lift productivity and foster cohesion of the team as a whole. Investing time improving their effectiveness will pay big dividends for every organisations.

Designed with meeting chairs and team leaders in mind, the 6 steps to effective team meetings works just as well for all team meetings at any level in an organisation from senior leadership team meetings to project teams or regular WIP meetings.

Here’s how to do it  

Before the meeting
  1. Start by building a purpose statement to align your team.

Doing this will help the team understand WHY they are meeting, as well as help you understand the type of meeting you need to have.

  1. Confirm the outcomes you want the meeting to achieve

If you know the outcomes before you meet, you’ll have a good idea of WHAT you actually want to achieve from the upcoming meeting. For those attending the meeting, knowing the meeting outcomes helps you decide whether to attend or not, if you have a choice that is.

  1. Decide who should attend the meeting

Once you know the purpose and outcomes of the meeting, you need to get the right people there. Team members need the skills and capabilities to contribute to the discussion and make informed decisions. They also need the interpersonal skills to work as a team, able to execute effectively and get things resolved.

  1. Prepare an agenda that delivers on the meeting purpose and outcomes, in the time allocated

Knowing the outcomes helps you determine the agenda items and pre-reads required. Provided to the team well ahead of the meeting is a must, especially for online meetings. Ask for feedback on the agenda. Provide alternatives in case the internet connection fails. Agree on the ground rules – no phones on, no checking emails, no multitasking to ensure everyone is ‘present’ and can contribute fully to the meeting. 

At the meeting
  1. Chairing a meeting really well

Chairing a meeting is very different from being part of the meeting. Start with a 10 minute catch up. This is particularly important during the Covid 19 pandemic. This allows everyone to share their non-work related stories, connect with the each other and then focus on the work of the meeting. Once the meeting starts, you need to avoid participating in the discussions yourself. Use the agenda as a guide, listen hard, encourage everyone to contribute and make informed decisions, within the time allocated. As it’s often harder to hear everyone online, the chair should read out the recommendations so it’s clear what’s being proposed and note agreed outcomes and actions themselves.

After the meeting

  1. Debrief the meeting to do better next time

This allows you and the participants to ask, did the meeting acheive it’s purpose by delivering the outcomes and actions required to get the work done? Did everyone get to contribute to the discussion? To check this keep the Polling function open after the online meeting finishes to capture feedback. When asked, did everyone agree the meeting was a good use of their time? If not what changes need to be made to improve the next one? 

To fast-track team meeting effectiveness

Get in touch with Desert Oak Associates for more on team dynamics and team meeting effectiveness workshops, 1-1 coaching for meeting chairs and team leaders.

August 2020

Desert Oak Associates focuses on Leader Led Change to underpin the work we do with you and your leadership teams. We have 25+ plus years working successfully with dynamic small to medium sized organisations, franchisee businesses and large companies managing change at scale projects.