You’ll get more out of your time together when you structure meetings.
Tip #1: Share the agenda
Prepare an agenda and share it with everyone before the meeting is due to take place. If possible, give the team a chance to comment on the topics up for discussion and to tell you about additional things they would like to talk about during the meeting. The purpose of having an agenda is to keep the meeting on track and to make sure that nothing important is forgotten. Sending out the agenda in advance helps as it prompts people to come to the meeting prepared to discuss the topics. They have time to gather together any facts or to prepare their updates.
Tip #2: Store documents online
Meetings generate project documents. You may want to refer to these during your meeting or you could be meeting to prepare and agree a document! The easiest way to make sure that everyone has access to the latest version of your project documents is to store them online in your project management software.
Tip #3: Meet virtually
You can have successful meetings that don’t involve bringing the whole project team together in one room. Use collaboration software to host online discussions. This might not be a traditional way to meet with the rest of your team, but it can be very effective, especially if you are short of time.
Tip #4: Start and finish on time
Whether you meet virtually via a conference call or all turn up in the same room, it is important that you start and finish your meeting on time. This is respectful of other people’s time and it will also make sure that you get the most discussion time possible from your allocated slot. For example, if you start 10 minutes late and finish 10 minutes early as someone has to leave, your hour-long meeting will actually only turn out to be 40 minutes.
Of course, if you have finished talking about all the topics on the agenda and there is nothing left to say, then end the meeting and let everyone go! There’s no point in dragging out the meeting just to fill the time slot, but if you find yourself rushing through it is probably best to leave the additional talking points to another day rather than struggle to fit them in today.
Tip #5: Issue minutes promptly
After the meeting you should send out the record of what was discussed in the form of meeting minutes. It’s best to do this as soon as you can. It’s easier for you as you’ll remember what happened and what was agreed and it gives everyone else the chance to review the notes and make any comments as they will remember better as well.