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Dec 15, 2021

Beginner’s Guide To Conducting Meetings (5 Ground Rules)

Streamline your process, boost communication, and run meetings that people actually want to go to.

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
Beginner’s Guide To Conducting Meetings (5 Ground Rules)

Nothing is more of a mood killer at work than sitting in a meeting that doesn’t feel necessary and completely lacks a purpose.

Bad meetings can derail your whole day. They waste your time and annoying your team.

But, when conducted correctly, an efficient meeting can re-energize the group, provide a launchpad for new projects, and bring up team morale for every participant.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how exactly you can turn your meetings into valuable tools to get the best out of your employees. We’ll be touching on:

  1. The main benefits of meetings
  2. The five steps to conduct a fantastic meeting
  3. General advice for meeting management

Let’s get right into it.

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What are the main benefits of conducting meetings?

Although many people see meetings as ineffective or a waste of time, when used correctly, an effective meeting can provide a forum for idea exchange and boost team communication.

There is a range of benefits to meetings, with a good meeting inviting the following valuable positives:

  • Increased communication
  • Problem solving
  • Inclusion

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Increased communication

Meetings invite all of your team to one location, allowing all attendees to communicate and share ideas. In addition, a meeting can enable individuals to communicate directly with the entire team in one room or one video call. By doing this, one person can share ideas or feedback, allowing other team members to comment with their thoughts.

Considering that all meeting participants will have the opportunity to speak, a meeting can become a great place to ensure that communication flows well across all departments. While things may be lost in communication over email, meetings provide a direct form of contact.

Inclusion 

When working in a team, especially if the group is particularly large, employees can often feel lost in the fray or isolated from their colleagues. Especially in the modern era of working from home, remote work, and freelance contracting, your team may struggle to get to know each other.

Meetings provide an opportunity to get to know others in the company, bringing everyone together for a set amount of time. Before the start or after the meeting ends, employees will have time to chat amongst themselves, building relationships and making sure that they feel included in the team they’re a part of.

Recently, a study by Oxford University brought to light that workers who feel happier at work will be, on average, 13% more productive than those who feel apathetic or negative about their workplaces. As a leader, one of the easiest ways to boost employee happiness, and therefore productivity, is to ensure every person feels like they are part of the team.

Meetings can be a valuable way of achieving this balance. 

Problem solving is ideal in a successful meeting

Another significant benefit to business meetings is that they provide a forum to work collectively on problems that are frustrating an individual or a whole team. This is especially the case in standing meetings, also known as scrum meetings, where people can present their roadblocks to the group and ask for help.

A single meeting can be productive enough to get a whole team on the same page, allowing them to start planning around how they’re going to overcome a problem. Meetings can be a great place to start coming up with ideas, with all the attendees having the opportunity to speak, participate, and share their perspectives. 

What’s more, meetings don’t have to last for two hours. You can have shorter sessions with a more defined purpose, streamlining the process and helping everyone get the information they need.

The best ideas are collaborative!

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What are the 5 ground rules for conducting an effective meeting?

A lousy meeting can waste time and put all the meeting attendees in a bad mood. 67% of workers say that a bad meeting distracts them from getting on with their jobs.

To avoid this sentiment and run an effective meeting, you’re going to want to follow five steps. Each of these addresses a different aspect of the process, helping everything run smoothly when the meeting starts.

You should include the following aspects or rules in your meetings:

  1. Set a meeting agenda before the meeting
  2. Know what type of meeting it is
  3. Start and end on time
  4. End with an action plan
  5. Take notes

Let’s break each of these steps down, discussing why they help create more effective meetings.

Set a meeting agenda

Meetings live and die by their agendas. Not only does an agenda inform everyone before they arrive exactly why the meeting is happening, allowing them to prepare and know what to expect, but it also gives you a roadmap to follow during the meeting.

As soon as the meeting starts, you don’t want to waste time establishing what you want to talk about, as it should all already be down on the agenda. After a short introduction, you’ll be able to launch straight into the meat of the meeting. 

Writing an agenda beforehand also allows you to establish, both for yourself and for your team, if the meeting is essential. You don’t want to flood your team’s schedule with meeting after meeting, so a clear agenda will demonstrate to them that you’ve thought about the reasons for calling the meeting and have a specific purpose for the meeting.

Just take a look at this sample agenda from Hugo. With just a click, you’ll be able to integrate this, or one of the hundreds of other agendas, into your meeting plan.

Establish the type of meeting 

Not all meetings follow the same format, meaning that establishing the type of meeting beforehand (and noting it in the agenda) ensures everyone knows what they’re getting into.

Is the meeting specifically to brainstorm ideas? Maybe it's about decision-making and action plans going forward on a project? It could even just be one of many regular meetings your team has each week to catch up on how everyone is progressing.

Pay attention to the different types of meetings there are, and make sure that your employees know which type they will be attending. Once they get to the conference room or video call, you should be able to get into a group discussion as quickly as possible.

Start and end on time

The end of meetings, no matter how good they may seem, will be derailed if you run over time. In every workplace, people are busy and need to stay on track. Due to this, punctuality is appreciated by all the participants involved.

Be sure to start your meeting when you say, don’t wait around for latecomers to arrive. Similarly, the session ends when you said it would.

Be very cautious about exceptions to these rules. Stick to your timings, and you’ll keep everything running smoothly.

End with an action plan

If you want to run effective meetings that ensure things get done, then ensure you have your final agenda item as setting a firm action plan. This plan will allow your team to consolidate what they’ve talked about quickly and now take action on the next steps.

Talk about what will come next in the process and how the ideas you’ve discussed will transform into affirmative actions. Be sure that all your attendees come away with a clear vision of where they need to go now with the project you’ve discussed.

Take notes

One of the most overlooked aspects of effective meetings is generating a set of notes that participants can look back on. Although this may seem like many small tasks that don’t make a difference, taking notes can significantly enrich your meetings.

Effective meetings will have one or many designated note-takers. Those that can type quickly are fantastic for this, jotting down the main ideas of the conversation at the same time as listening and participating.

While the notes don’t have to be as detailed as meeting minutes that break down who said what at every moment, it’s a good idea to write down the main ideas of what was discussed by the group. 

When using a meeting application like Hugo, you’ll be able to take notes on each agenda item, attaching your notes to specific sections to keep everything compartmentalized. With your notes, the agenda, and the meeting calendar schedule in one place, Hugo makes your meetings as easy as possible.

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Should managers do all the talking in meetings?

Although many believe that meeting management is about keeping a formal meeting structure and getting all participants on the same page, you should take more of a back seat as a manager.

No matter how important their role is in the company, key leaders place plenty of attention on listening to what their team has to say. If you’re calling a meeting to solve a particular problem, you likely already have a fairly certain idea of what you’re going to do. Telling other people your vision won’t help you along the process of coming up with alternative angles.

Instead, you should let your team speak, come up with ideas in side conversations, and then give feedback to the room at large. With this, you’ll be gathering a range of ideas which you can then use to make a final decision.

Bring on your next meeting!

With these five steps and additional tips, you’ll be well on your way to conducting a meeting that has a clear purpose and goes off without a hitch.

If you’re looking to streamline your meeting process, making things easier for both management and your general team, then why not try out the meeting platform Hugo. With team calendar scheduling, note-taking compatibility, and a live agenda that you can create and work through, Hugo is the perfect meeting companion.

What’s more, it’s free for small teams, making this the perfect opportunity to try out the tool—and best of luck with your next meeting.

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