Meetings are fantastic for exchanging ideas and getting work done, as they enable better communication by being face to face, rather than through a technological barrier. If meetings are not run efficiently then they can become tedious and boring, not to mention unproductive so it is important to follow our top tips below on how to host a meeting.
Make sure they know why you’re hosting the meeting
Define the purpose of the meeting
Defining exactly what you want to cover in your meeting will help you to make your meeting more successful, as it will reduce the level of distractions from unimportant/irrelevant topics. If you can’t define the purpose of your meeting, that suggest that either you’ve got too many topics to cover in just one meeting or that perhaps you don’t have enough to speak about in a meeting and you could try an email or a work-collaboration instant messaging tool like Slack, Zoom or Microsoft Teams. After those initial discussions, you may then find that you need to have a meeting about a specific point that was raised.
Only invite relevant attendees
Just as people who don’t need to be there won’t appreciate being dragged into a meeting that is pointless for them, you won’t appreciate them being distracted and distracting during your meetings. You should also take care to ensure that you’ve included everyone who will be needed and those who are stakeholders or will be directly affected by the outcome of the meeting. This will not only improve the meeting but also help you avoid having to re-make decisions when you have discovered someone was missing from your meeting.
Send the agenda in advance
Sending the agenda will help people keep on track during the meeting and be able to say whether they think any changes should be made in advance, as well as make sure you include any tasks that must be completed before the meeting or at least say that you require an update on where those tasks are so that attendees can be prepared for this.
Keep on point (mostly) and distraction free
Don’t be afraid to deviate when important or create another meeting
While in general you should stick to your agenda, you may find that there is a more pressing issue to deal with. For example, if you’re meeting to discuss the floorplan of your new office but the new building has been condemned, you’re better off discussing new buildings than where you were going to put each team and the coffee machine. If your meeting throws up issues that are important but not vital to the outcome of the current meeting, don’t be afraid to schedule another meeting that gives you an opportunity to deal with it, as well as time in the interim to ponder solutions on your own.
Pick a reasonable time and length
Make sure you’re not scheduling the meeting for first thing on Monday or last thing on Friday, as people will be distracted on a Friday afternoon and unprepared on a Monday morning. Mid-week is usually a good time to have a meeting and, as long as it is not right at the beginning or end of the day, your meeting should go smoothly. Only schedule as much time as you need for the meeting, as otherwise it could run on too long. If your meeting is going to be a long one, make sure that you have found points that can be used for breaks during the meeting to give everyone a chance to refresh themselves and refocus.
Phones and laptops can be a big distraction during meetings and if they won’t be needed for research purposes, you should consider asking delegates to leave them behind so that they are not tempted to create barriers between you all by checking their notifications. If people keep going off topic, try to politely bring the conversation back round to what you need to discuss. A little banter can be a good thing, as long as it is not the most prominent discussion during the meeting.
Choose a convenient location to host your meeting
When booking a meeting, you should consider where everyone will be before then. For example, if everyone is starting in the same place then you may be able to schedule the meeting at your workplace but if several attendees are not local then using a meeting venue can work well and be a good compromise for travel. You will also be able to get refreshments provided and a comfortable room laid out the way you need with great AV technology and Wi-Fi if you pick Eastwood Hall for your Nottingham meeting venue.
Get creative with your team to break barriers
It may sound counter-intuitive but sometimes imposing constraints or new perspectives can lead to solutions. Sometimes you may surprise yourselves with just how creative you can be. Imposing constraints such as ‘how would you do it with one hand behind your back?’, ‘how would you do it blindfolded?’, ‘how would Superman tackle this issue?’ or ‘if you had to give me the product tomorrow, how would you patch it to make it work?’ can lead people to think creatively and focus on the actual issue, ignoring all else.
Break the ice
If you don’t all know each other or you have a new team member, you could always break the ice to make it easier to communicate by doing speed introductions, asking everyone for a crazy fact about themselves or playing a quick game. Brain teasers at the beginning of the meeting (especially ones with prizes) can be a great way to start your team thinking creatively.
Encourage everyone to speak up
Not everyone attending your meeting will feel comfortable offering their input during the meeting if they believe that other people are going to be speaking a lot. To counteract this, consider going around the table or randomly asking people for opinions. Just because they are quiet, doesn’t mean they don’t want to speak or have an idea.
Provide snacks when hosting a meeting
Snacks may not be a very creative idea but they are great for creative thinking! If your meeting is going to be longer than half an hour, you may wish to provide some snacks for your attendees. This doesn’t have to be a three-course meal but tea, coffee and perhaps some fruit and biscuits or pastries are normally highly appreciated. When you’re hosting a meeting, these will always be appreciated and people can take it in turns to bring snacks when the meetings are regular.
Make sure your meeting has actions and outcomes
Take reliable minutes
If you are chairing the meeting and you won’t be able to take the minutes, delegate the role to someone who can be trusted to note down any important points raised or decisions and actions that have been agreed.
Decide on actions
When solutions are found or something needs further investigation, make sure someone is appointed to deal with this or everyone will leave the meeting assuming that someone else will be taking care of this and it will never get done. Having a clear list of actions and repeating them at the end of the meeting in your summary will give those responsible a chance to note down anything they missed and to reinforce what is expected of everyone at the end of the meeting.
Follow up with actions
While your meeting may be over, the work isn’t so make sure you follow up with those who had actions after the agreed, reasonable time so that everything can be confirmed as done and satisfactory and you can move onto whatever is next.
We hope you find these tips for how to host a meeting helpful! When you’re ready to book your meeting, get in touch with our team and we’ll find the perfect meeting space for you.View our meeting & events venue