I work with a lot of leaders who share frustration about the poor quality of their team meetings. I ask to review the past few meeting agendas to learn more.Here a few tips that have proven to be helpful to my clients:
1. Create an engaging and impactful agenda AHEAD of time. Focus on the outcome you want as you create the agenda. Send out to the team in advance to review it and encourage their input. Everyone should be aligned and have an understanding of the meetings' focus. If part of the agenda is informational, try to minimize spending time in these areas, or send that part out as a separate email and it does not need to be part of the agenda.
2. While the meetings should be tight and focused, that doesn't mean that everyone needs to be serious. A leader can weave lightness and levity into the atmosphere which will create a cognitive balance for the participants to be more creative, open and involved.
3. HONOR the meeting times and set an example. Show up on time and END the meeting on time. I hear from teams that resent when meetings extend past the agreed time and there is no end in sight.
4. Keep the meeting on point. If someone drifts from the topic, it is everyone's responsibility to politely get the discussion back on point. If another issue arises, ask to "parking lot" that item for the next meeting.
5. If a new idea is proposed, ask the team to first think of ways to make it happen. Then, ask for honest discussions about concerns around the idea. Too often new ideas are trampled to death before they even have a chance.
6. During the meeting watch the participants. Is everyone speaking? What is their body language: engaged or almost sleeping?
7. Have a note taker. Someone needs to record what was said, as well as follow up actions and deadlines. These follow ups should be incorporated into the next meeting's agenda to hold everyone accountable.
8. Get feedback from everyone at end of the meeting. Did we accomplish what we wanted from the agenda? Was the meeting engaging? What could we have done better? Remind the team that it's everyone's responsibility to get value out of the meeting. Good luck!