Meetings can sometimes seem like a necessary evil. In the worst case, they tend to be long, drawn out, and don’t lead your team to any clear action. But in the best case, effective meetings can bring out new ideas, build comradery, and take your business to new heights. So, how do you get from the worst case to the best? Collaboration tools.
Effective meetings are built on team collaboration. No one likes feeling as though they’ve wasted their time in a meeting, especially when there’s likely other work they could be doing. If your team is suffering from meeting burnout, try these collaboration tools for more effective meetings.
- Set the Agenda in Advance
Some people are great at thinking on their feet and able to produce brilliant opinions and ideas at the drop of a hat. But for the vast majority, not so much. Setting an agenda beforehand and sending it to your team with clear direction on what topics you’ll be discussing and what input you want from them gives your team more time to prepare and cohesively collect their thoughts. In turn, this allows for a more efficient and effective meeting — win-win!
It’s important to note that clarity really is key here. For example, rather than putting an agenda item that says “Fundraising Update” you may want to include one that says “What fundraising campaigns are we running in March, April, and May and what is needed before we launch?” If the agenda starts getting too long, ask yourself what the goal of the meeting is and what can be pared back. Sometimes two meetings would actually be more effective than one, with the right people attending for the specific goal.
- Make Time to Brainstorm
If you are looking for more meeting collaboration, it’s important that you get clear on what type of collaboration you’re seeking. Do you want to hear more ideas from your team or get more input on potential initiatives? If so, you may be served well by setting aside dedicated brainstorm time. If you’re doing this, creating clear parameters will help. First, determine the timeframe you want to set aside for this — say 15 minutes — and second, stick to that timeframe. Set a timer and when you hit the 15-minute mark: stop. If there’s more to be discussed, then it needs to become its own separate action item. You can also encourage collaboration in brainstorming by asking your team members to think of ideas before they come to the meeting (clearly laying it out in your agenda). That way everyone will have something to contribute and it will also give the more introverted people on your team a chance to speak up.
- Create a Parking Lot
Even if you’ve set an agenda and sent it out beforehand with clear directions for your team, it’s likely some wayward topics will enter the meeting. Perhaps a discussion about ideas for a new logo turns into talking about a whole new marketing campaign. Or maybe you have been doing a 15-minute brainstorm session and had more than one great idea come out of it, but you don’t have time to go into all of them now. These discussions are likely important to have, but not necessarily at this meeting. For the sake of efficiency, create a parking lot for such ideas that warrant further investigation and discussion and set another meeting in the future to discuss those items.
- Leave with Next Steps
Have you ever left a meeting feeling like you had a good, productive discussion but then you get back to your desk and you’re not sure how to proceed on that discussion? Or perhaps you’ve been talking about a topic at several meetings and have had good ideas come from it, but the item has been on the backburner for a long time because it never seems to be a priority. The most effective meetings end with clear action items and all those in the room knowing what their next steps are. It can be a good idea to even put “Determining Next Steps” as an agenda item following up the discussion, so it doesn’t get missed.
- Use Tech Tools
Cloud-based platforms are a collaboration tool that can help with more effective meetings and beyond. Using tech tools that allow for collaboration before and after a meeting can keep the conversation going while the work is being done. Sharing documents, spreadsheets, and notes is easier than ever and encourages team collaboration. Others can let you share your calendar availability, set a meeting countdown, and communicate important details to your team.
When it comes to meeting collaboration, also remember that collaboration isn’t consensus. While you want to gather new ideas and suggestions for improvement, if you wait to implement anything until everyone agrees you’ll likely be waiting for a long time.
Another collaboration tool that can lead to more effective meetings is the technology you use. SHEA Global can streamline your mission critical business processes and connect your business systems. Learn more about our services at SHEAGlobal.com or call 1-866-239-1113.