The best team meetings are intentional. Meaningful meetings create better conversations, company culture, and collaboration.
Team meetings are the lifeblood of an organization. Productive meetings act as a forum for sharing the best ideas, conversations, and feedback.
For many organizations, meaningful meetings are hard to come by. As most meetings lack direction and purpose, the results can be disastrous. Statistics show that 71% of team meetings are unproductive, costing organizations upwards of $37 billion a year.
The key to making the most of your meetings is to meet with intention. In this article, we explore the art of meaningful meetings through the following topics:
- The Meaning of Meetings
- The Arc of a Meeting
- Making a Magical Meeting
- A Model for Magical Meetings
The Meaning of Meetings
Meetings serve as a significant method of communication for any organization. While meetings are part of company culture, many meetings result in confusion, distraction, and wasted time. Shift your meeting culture by investing in the meaning behind meetings.
Meetings serve two main purposes:
- A meeting should define a team or unit. The essential members of an organization should be involved in most meetings as a positive meeting culture benefits the whole group rather than one individual. In the most effective meetings, participants reaffirm their identity through their dialogue, decisions, and overall course of action throughout the meeting.
- Meetings serve as a setting for an organization to revise, edit, update, and add to its communal knowledge. Participants create and reaffirm a shared pool of knowledge, judgment, experience, and folklore through meetings.
The best meetings underscore what each participant knows as a group rather than the knowledge of any single person. With a group of participants on the same page, all members are able to do their job in the most knowledgeable way.
Meeting on Purpose
Intentionality is the secret behind meetings that matter. By meeting on purpose and creating gatherings as intentionally as possible, leaders are able to facilitate an exchange of information that speaks to all parties involved.
Neurology reveals that there is indeed magic to making meetings meaningful. Science shows us that we are all wired uniquely in neurologically-different ways. A meeting of the minds shows us that no two minds are the same, so our assumptions, perspectives, and perceptions differ greatly from others. Acknowledging these neurological differences allows us to design meetings that meet the unique needs of each attendee.
In your efforts to create meaningful meetings that speak to all participants, it’s essential to lead each session with clear direction. While many facilitators use an agenda to communicate their purpose and vision, meaningful meetings must go beyond simply having an agenda. Experts like Elise Keith reveal that an effective meeting is possible even without a clear-cut agenda.
The truth is that facilitators must tap into the clarity of a meaningful meeting, agenda or not. Harness this idea of clarity by identifying and understanding the purpose ahead of any meeting.
The Arc of a Meeting
Going beyond the idea of an agenda allows facilitators to focus on creating the arc of a meeting. Using an arc rather than an agenda transforms team meetings into a journey. In each session, facilitators lead attendees through a process of conversation and storytelling.
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Letting go of an agenda ahead of meaningful team meetings gives facilitators that chance to use a template for an unrestricted approach to facilitation. Templates are easy tools that give facilitators a chance to insert the most appropriate content for each session. Opting for a template allows meeting attendees and facilitators to follow the “flow” and see how it guides and shapes their path going forward.
Facilitating with templates gives leaders the opportunity to design meaningful and intentional meetings with any purpose they have in mind. With the right template, you’ll set the rules of the game and give your attendees a chance to win.
Making a Magical Meeting
The most magical team meetings start with the same ingredients. Modeling your sessions after a tried-and-true recipe for meeting success gives you the chance to hold the most successful meetings again and again.
Consider the following method for the most effective meetings:
1. Create Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is a key component for designing successful meetings in an environment where everyone feels safe enough to be their authentic selves. Psychological safety allows for trust amongst all meeting members. Create a psychologically safe environment by reducing fear and anxiety in the workplace.
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Making a habit of offering open discussion gives all participants a chance to be heard. Moreover, starting a meeting with icebreakers and team activities allows participants to break down any perceived differences and create camaraderie with one another.
2. Be Inclusive
Feeling included allows people to perform at their best. Collaboration is an important way to promote inclusion in team meetings. It’s human nature to need to belong, and facilitators can tap into this brain science and meet these needs in the way they design meetings.
Make your team members feel included by offering them opportunities for team development, skill-building, and bonding. Additionally, creating the chance for everyone to contribute and articulate in each meeting is an essential way to increase inclusion among your team members.
3. Avoid Information Overload
Too much information can lead to cognitive overload. The best meetings are those that don’t deliver massive amounts of information. Instead, the most successful meetings artfully serve attendees small amounts of information that are appropriate for the context. Reiterate this information with a hands-on activity that encourages attendees to forge personal connections and create an engaging learning experience.
4. Increase Productivity
Increase productivity by decreasing pre-meeting prep. Pre-meeting prep has the tendency to distract team members from the mission of the meeting. Moreover, if they schedule time for the initial meeting, preparation time puts additional stress on their schedule. Experts suggest holding additional study hall sessions prior to team meetings if preparation time is an absolute necessity.
A Model for Magical Meetings
Successful meetings start with the right intention, ideas, and arc. As you work to transform your team meetings, consider the following models for magical meetings:
- A Daily Standup (10 Min Each)
Start this daily meeting by asking questions such as:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What will you do today?
- Are you stuck on anything?
- Iteration Planning Meeting (60 min each)
This planning meeting serves to align all team members and check on any backlog from the previous week.
Facilitators can ask questions like:
- What will we do this week?
- Does everyone have an understanding of this week’s requirements?
- Are we all in alignment?
- Friday Afternoon Meeting (60 min each)
In Friday afternoon team meetings, participants have a chance to be reflective and share their challenges and critiques from the week.
These feedback meetings allow team members to learn from each experience and are the most effective when a project wraps. Use retrospective meetings to gather your team members and invite them to discuss what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be changed for future projects.
- Onboarding Meetings
Onboarding meetings are ideal for all new hires. These sessions give new team members the chance to receive training, understand the company’s structure, learn about new projects, and discuss their role in the team.
- Brainstorming Meetings
Innovation is at the heart of brainstorming team meetings. Facilitators use these meetings to generate ideas in a shorter period of time. These meetings are critical when problem-solving.
- Kickoff Meetings
Kickoff meetings are ideal when working on a new initiative or project. Use kickoff meetings to get your team on board with new initiatives. These meetings effectively communicate the long-term goals and encourage them to align themselves with future projects. Moreover, these meetings help solidify each person’s role in the organization and get their buy-in.
- Financial and Budget Meetings
Financial and budget team meetings focus on resolving communication issues regarding money. These financial meetings help ease any tension around your budget, raises, and other financial issues.
Team meetings are the beating heart of any organization. Need help transforming your meeting culture? At Voltage Control, we help leaders and teams change the way meetings affect their company culture! Contact us to learn more about making your meetings magical.