3 Actionable Tips To Plan and Prepare For Your Next Team Meeting
As we look towards a new year coming soon (Hello, 2022!), we can’t help but look back to what 2021 brought us.
During the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, teams were left scrambling to try working together from quickly thrown-together home offices – and adapt to this new normal of working from home while being part of a team.
Once 2021 came around and everyone hit their stride, new meeting formats emerged, and dare we say, are here to stay!
Post-Pandemic Meeting Formats
While these meeting formats aren’t new, they are now seen and used across the board in almost all companies we work with.
IN-PERSON: means that everyone that is attending the meeting will be located in the same physical space.
HYBRID: means that there will be people attending In-Person and Virtually
VIRTUAL: means that everyone attending the meeting will be connecting online.
The facilitation process for each of these types of meetings starts with planning and designing! One of the most important questions to get an answer to is “Why are we meeting?”
Why Are We Meeting?
The facilitator designs the meeting. A great place to start is by drafting an agenda.
Here are the questions that need answers!
- What’s the purpose?
- What are the desired outcomes
- Who needs to be there?
- How long?
- What are the decisions? Who will make them and how will they make them?
- What degree of facilitation is needed?
- Could it be an email instead?
3 Actionable Tips to Plan and Prepare for Your Next Team Meeting
Here are three actionable tips to reignite your meetings!
1 Conduct a sponsor interview
Planning a meeting begins by envisioning what will have happened by the end of the meeting that will have made it successful “Start with the end in mind.”
An interview with the meeting sponsor, the person who will benefit from the outcome of the meeting, will help you identify the purpose and style of the meeting you are planning. If it’s more of a ‘tell’ vs ‘ask’ kind of meeting, you might need less design.
The more interaction, participation and input you are seeking from the group, the more planning and design time will be required.
2 Determine the type of meeting and degree of facilitation needed
Not every meeting needs a high degree of facilitation planning and design, but every meeting could benefit from someone who is able to step into the role of a facilitator, maintain neutrality and keep the conversation moving. Meetings that benefit greatly from intentional planning and design are meetings where new ideas and decision making are needed.
3 Create an agenda in question format
Most meeting agendas are written in phrases that refer to the topics as a noun like “release plan” or “team picnic” and include a verb in front like “discuss” or “decide”.
So the agenda might look like this:
- Discuss risks
- Decide on next release features
Here’s the challenge, how do we know when we’re done ‘discussing’ or when we’re ready to ‘decide’. It’s ambiguous and can be uninviting or confusing to participants.
Instead, view the meeting agenda as an opportunity to invite participants into a space to think together. Help them get warmed up by giving them an agenda in the format of questions to be answered.
5 Steps to Plan Your Next Team Meeting
Here are 5 steps the facilitator should take to ensure a successful team meeting.
- Capture the meeting purpose.
- Capture the outcomes.
- Identify all the questions the team must answer that will lead to the answer of the meeting purpose and outcomes.
- Identify the logical order for the team to answer the questions.
- Send the agenda to participants ahead of time.
It’s imperative the facilitator carries this plan through during the meetings. That means the following:
- Display the purpose, outcomes and agenda at the start so everyone can see them.
- Review the meeting’s purpose, outcomes and agenda and answer any questions, if appropriate. Check for alignment from the group and address any issues, like not having the right people in the meeting or people thinking they were coming for a different purpose.
Next, read ‘How to Create Purposeful, Intentional Space for Effective Team Collaboration’ to learn more about facilitating hybrid meetings.