11 Tips for Effective Meetings

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | October 2022

Positive looking woman on a Zoom call.

Meetings make up a big chunk of our days in today's Zoom-filled world. At ArcStone, we start each day with our team huddle, and for many of us, that's just the first of many throughout the day.  

Unfortunately, in a recent survey by Zippia, workers reported that 71% of those meetings aren't productive. Let's face it, we've all had to sit in meetings that were a waste of time. 
 
But that's not all. Ineffective meetings can be detrimental to an organization. 
 
With so many of us working from home, it's critical that we protect our time and get better at holding meetings. 
 
So, how can you ensure your meetings are productive and use your time well? 
 
In this blog post, we'll cover some tried and true tips for improving your meeting game. 

Is the Meeting Necessary?

Too often, meetings happen without a clear purpose. Before adding time to others' calendars, determine whether a meeting is necessary. Sometimes things are better covered via email or by collaborating in a document. 
 
If you determine a meeting is best, identify what you want to get done during that time.

Choose Participates Wisely

It's frustrating to hold a meeting only to find out that the decision maker isn't there. Before setting a meeting, determine who needs to attend. What are the roles that are essential to have a good meeting? Likewise, be cautious about inviting the meeting up to too many people, especially on Zoom. Too many participants can slow down communication. 

Send an Invite

This is obvious, but it’s still something that gets missed. People are busy. Don't expect them to remember a meeting that you told them about in passing.

Send an Agenda

A clear agenda serves as a roadmap and gives participants a chance to add missed topics. An agenda also helps keep the meeting on track. 

Be sure and send it ahead of time to give participants a chance to prepare. 

Set a Start and End Time

Determine how much time you'll need ahead of time, and don't go over. Set a timer if you need to. Keep the meeting moving by adding things to a sandbox so you can circle back to them at a later time. 

Music!

Enlist the power of music to reduce the awkward silence as people are joining the meeting. To do this, simply click Share Screen > Advanced > Computer Audio.

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Start with a Check-in

Beginning a meeting with a quick check-in helps set the tone for the meeting. It also gives people a moment to connect. Be sure and keep the check-in brief. 

Pass the Talking Stick

Zoom meetings can make it difficult for everyone to be heard. Be cognizant of the time allotment that participants have to express their ideas. Give everyone an opportunity to speak. 
 
If this is challenging, consider enlisting a talking stick or a signal to give everyone a turn to speak. 

Strong opinions? Learn why?

Sometimes (most times), a little conflict can elevate a meeting. Strong opinions show that people care and have some skin in the game. If someone has a strong opinion, try to get to the bottom of it. Is there a problem you are hoping to solve? Don't be afraid to ask the person to do some research or experiment before moving ahead. 

Share Meeting Notes

Post your notes for meeting participants to review and contribute to. Sharing notes improves the likelihood of everyone being "on the same page." Sharing notes can also be helpful if you have questions down the line. Your future self will appreciate those notes. 

End with an action plan and todos

Leave extra time at the end of the meeting to identify the next steps and assign to-do's.

Topics: Nonprofit Help

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