You’re in meetings all day long. Whether you’re meeting with your department or a project team, these 5 tips will make your meetings more productive and engaging.

  1. Take time to build connection
    Research has found that when people feel a personal connection to a co-worker, they are more apt to collaborate, share knowledge, and experience less stress. Allowing time for team members to interact on a personal level fosters a stronger bond and understanding. This can be accomplished by taking the first three minutes of a meeting for a free flow of conversation. Think of this as the casual conversations people used to have while walking into a conference room. Right now, many people are craving connection, especially in virtual work environments.
  2. Have a clear agenda with time limits
    A clear, shared agenda sets the tone for a focused and productive meeting. Sharing this agenda beforehand allows participants to prepare and contribute productively to the discussion. Once the agenda is set, stay on track. When tangential topics come up, table them for a future discussion. When you’ve reached the set time limit for a topic, inform the group you’re going to move on to the next topic. If more discussion is needed, be sure to schedule that time. Take notes on what is discussed, who will take what action and by when, as well as any decisions that are made.
  3. Ensure progress
    Project updates can be communicated via collaboration tools such as MS-Teams or Slack. Don’t take time in a meeting to discuss something that can be communicated via a tracker or email. To facilitate project discussions more efficiently, use a color-coded voting system. This system provides a quick and visual representation of the project’s status, which aids in making better decisions. For instance, a ‘red’ vote indicates that the project is facing a significant obstacle and cannot proceed until the issue is resolved. A ‘yellow’ vote suggests that the project can continue once a minor issue is addressed. ‘Green’ signifies that the project is on track without any problems, eliminating the need for further discussion.
  4. Make decisions
    When the purpose of a meeting is to make a decision, be sure the right people are in the room. This includes anyone with critical information and/or decision-making authority. Not having the right people in the room will delay action. Additionally, don’t feel obligated to invite every person on the project to every meeting. How do you know if someone should be invited? If someone is in the room but never contributes and/or works on other projects while in the meeting, they probably don’t need to be there. If they need to be informed of the result or decision, share the meeting notes with them.
  5. Recognize wins
    Celebrating team achievements is more than just a feel-good factor; it’s a neuroscience-backed strategy that boosts team performance and collaboration. When we recognize and celebrate wins, it activates the reward circuitry within our limbic system, the part of our brain responsible for emotion and motivation. This activation triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter often referred to as the ‘feel-good hormone.’ The surge of dopamine not only creates a sense of happiness and satisfaction but also enhances the desire for collaboration. When team members see their efforts being recognized and celebrated, it fosters a sense of belonging and shared purpose.  By understanding and leveraging the neuroscience behind celebration, leaders can create an environment that not only acknowledges achievements but also fosters collaboration, creativity, and a continuous drive for excellence.

Effective meetings are not just about discussing progress; they’re about building connections, making informed decisions and recognizing achievements. Implementing these strategies can transform your meetings into productive, engaging, and motivating gatherings.

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