How to Run Effective Team Meetings

Have you ever noticed how some people groan at the thought of team meetings? It’s not uncommon for employees to feel like these meetings are a waste of time. 

But actually, team meetings matter. They provide a space for sharing important information, brainstorming game-changing ideas and giving everyone a chance to speak up and share their thoughts. 

As a leader, you can make these meetings more fun and engaging by learning how to run them effectively. Your team will thank you for it!

Why Do Team Meetings Fall Flat?

While team meetings are standard across the work landscape, they frequently miss the mark and oftentimes even do more harm than good. In order to learn how to run better, more effective team meetings, it’s important to understand first why team meetings can fall short.

Here are some of the top reasons why team meetings can be lackluster:

  • They lack a clear agenda and/or purpose: First and foremost, team meetings should have a clear purpose and an agenda. Studies show us that 24 billion hours are wasted each year due to unproductive meetings and  41% of employees multitask during them.
  • The agenda is overloaded: While it can be tempting to try to fit many things into one meeting, if an agenda is too stacked, it can become overwhelming and ultimately ineffective for employees. 
  • Preparation isn’t a priority: Team meetings require preparation, oftentimes from both leadership and employees. If people are unprepared for the meeting, it can lead to underwhelming content and a disrupted flow. 
  • Employees aren’t engaged: If team members have a glazed look in their eyes and their minds wander off, then it will be difficult for a meeting to be effective. 
  • Time isn’t managed properly: It’s not enough to have an agenda—it has to be adhered to. If meetings run over consistently, they can lead to frustrated employees because their schedules are disrupted.
  • No follow-up items: Action items are also crucial to an effective meeting. Without the next steps, team members might not grasp what the point of the meeting was in the first place.
  • Frequency and length: Meetings that are too long or too frequent can lead to meeting burnout, decreasing employee engagement. One survey found that nearly 50% of employees admitted to feeling overwhelmed by going to too many meetings. 

What’s Leadership Doing Wrong?

Even the most skillful leaders and executive teams can misjudge how to best tackle meetings. Some common missteps from leadership can include:

  • A lack of communication/transparency around meetings and agendas 
  • Ignoring (or failing to obtain) employee feedback regarding meetings
  • Ineffective facilitation, where the leader isn’t properly guiding the discussion, encouraging engagement and keeping things on track 
  • They’re calling too many meetings with unclear purposes/follow-up items, leading to employee disengagement
  • Meeting agendas aren’t created and shared, and the conversation becomes derailed

Now that we understand why team meetings can fail, let’s turn our attention to the traits and strategies for conducting a successful and effective team meeting.

4 Key Attributes of an Effective Team Meeting

While it might seem like there are many ways to get a team meeting wrong, there are also many ways to hold incredibly effective ones. But before we dive into that, we will quickly touch on what an effective team meeting looks like. 

Here are 4 typical characteristics of effective team meetings.

There’s a Clear Purpose

Perhaps most importantly, the most effective meetings have a purpose. Whether information needs to be shared, a problem needs to be solved, there are updates on a project or setting goals, there are plenty of reasons why meetings should happen. When that purpose is known and shared, a meeting is far more likely to accomplish its goals. 

Employees Are Engaged and Participating

When meetings are operating at their peak effectiveness, employees will pay attention and engage. This might result in poignant questions, useful feedback or productive conversations. 

The Meeting Is Concise

While meetings will vary in length, effective meetings are as concise as possible while still fitting in all relevant information. Whether the meeting is on an executive retreat or in the conference room, they should still be as efficient as possible. 

There Are Follow-up Steps for Employees

Typically, an effective team meeting will result in some follow-up action items for employees. These could be tasks, decisions or information to gather. It’s crucial for team members to understand their roles and responsibilities and any deadlines or expectations set for them.

Planning an Effective Team Meeting

An effective team meeting doesn’t happen on its own accord; instead, leaders need to take steps to plan an effective team meeting. Let’s take a look. 

The Role of Proper Planning in Effective Meetings

Planning a meeting ahead of time gives leaders a precise blueprint to follow to maximize the effectiveness of the meeting. This valuable preparation time can allow leaders to strategize about what information will be shared, how to present this information and how to notify employees about the meeting. 

Leaders can also come up with some plans to address team dynamics. For example, it’s useful to have strategies prepared to engage employees or to handle a situation where a conversation runs off course.

Ultimately, planning can be the one key difference between a wildly effective meeting and one that fails to meet its goals. 

Necessary Components of a Team Meeting Plan

Some of the necessary components of a team meeting plan can include: 

  • Outlined objectives and goals. What do you hope to achieve by the end of the meeting?
  • An agenda that breaks down the meeting into different topics or items, along with how long each item should take to discuss.
  • Any materials needed for the meeting. This can include printouts, links or attachments.
  • A communication plan. How/where will the meeting take place? What strategies can get employees engaged? What happens if the conversation gets too far off course?
  • Follow-up items. What will your action items be for employees to complete after the meeting? How will they complete them?

By incorporating the necessary components, team leaders can ensure that meetings are productive, engaging and valuable for all participants. Remember, a successful team meeting is not just about ticking off boxes on a checklist but rather about fostering collaboration, creativity and innovation among team members.

Executing Successful Team Meetings

After you have a comprehensive team meeting plan prepared, there are some strategies you can deploy to execute your team meeting successfully. Let’s go over them.

Best Practices for Leading Team Meetings

Effective team meetings require certain best practices. These include setting a purpose and agenda, getting employees engaged from the get-go and starting and ending on time. Other best practices include facilitating team meetings that encourage dialogue and conversation, which can include asking open-ended questions and allowing team member contribution. 

It’s also important to keep conversations on track and to minimize disruptions. Visual aids can help lead an effective meeting, as slides, charts and videos can enhance understanding and engagement. At the end of a meeting, you can summarize key points to ensure they’re well-understood and give your team members next steps to complete. 

Do’s and Don’ts During a Team Meeting

Here are some of the key do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when leading a team meeting:

  • DO keep things on track. If a conversation starts to get wayward, bring it back tactfully.
  • DO be prepared, organized and timely.
  • DO take steps to facilitate engagement.
  • DO seek feedback about your meetings from employees so you can constantly improve them.
  • DON’T run the meeting on autopilot and let your employees lose focus.
  • DON’T neglect your meeting agenda.
  • DON’T fail to manage discussions.
  • DON’T forget to give employees clear follow-up actions.

By following the do’s and don’ts mentioned above, you can make sure team meetings are always effective, valuable and engaging. 

Facilitating Engaging Conversations and Discussions

When a meeting only consists of one person speaking for the entire time, it can quickly become monotonous and difficult for participants to actively follow. Instead, leaders can take steps to facilitate engaging conversations and discussions.

Firstly, leaders can get things “warmed up” by starting with an open-ended question at the beginning of the meeting. This can be something on-topic, but it can also be something more casual, just to get the ball rolling.

Then, throughout the meeting, take moments between topics to ask open-ended questions or to open the floor for discussions. If all you hear is crickets, then more specific questions might help, as can a “round-robin” style feedback session, where everyone is asked to contribute an idea or question. 

Communication in Team Meetings

Communication in team meetings plays a large role in just how effective that meeting can be. Clear, precise and intentional communication can lead to meetings with far more desirable outcomes. For example, if team member profiles are understood and considered, leaders can use a science-backed approach to communication by taking personality types and behaviors into account. 

In general, leaders should practice being clear public speakers and ensure the message they’re delivering is the one they aim to deliver.

Dealing With Conflicts During Team Meetings

What do team leaders do if conflict arises during meetings? The answer differs depending on the conflict and what it’s about. 

Firstly, leaders should stay calm and can start by acknowledging the conflict openly, without placing blame, and addressing the difference of opinions. If the conflict is related to the conversation at hand, you can actively listen and encourage team members to express their viewpoints clearly and respectfully. If the conversation gets off-topic or too heated, you can redirect the discussion back to the meeting’s agenda.

If you’re aware of your team member’s conflict styles, you can use this information to either facilitate the conversation in a healthy way or to calm down the situation and redirect the conversation. 

How Does RallyBright Lead to Better Meetings?

Team meetings can be a big undertaking, but you don’t have to handle them all alone. RallyBright is a platform that powers great organizations with team-based tools. It gives leaders crucial data on their teams so they can quickly identify and tackle the top challenges keeping their teams from achieving success.

When it comes to meetings, RallyBright’s insights can help leaders understand their team’s communication and conflict style and overall performance. It also gives leaders insights into their team’s DISC, team dynamics and insights into collaboration, which can all lead to more effectively run meetings. 

Running Effective Team Meetings Takes a Lot More Than Just Luck

Phew, did you catch all of that? Yes, team meetings matter, but the best team meetings don’t happen on their own. 

It takes understanding, preparation and insights for leaders to consistently hit their meetings out of the park. And when it comes to effective team meetings, think of RallyBright as your secret weapon.

RallyBright gives you tools, data and insights into your team so you can understand exactly how they think and work. RallyBright’s research-backed approach is designed to help you optimize your team’s performance across the board and gives you resources to help your team achieve high-performance collaboration. 

Find out how RallyBright can transform your team meetings. Try a RallyBright demo today