So you’ve been tapped to run a meeting for your company or organization. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve done it before, it’s worth brushing up on how to run a meeting so you can make the best use of your time together.
These days, with the rise of remote work, meetings come in all forms, from in-person board meetings to virtual town hall meetings. You may also have to run a meeting for your parent-teacher organization, homeowners association, or a social group.
Each type of meeting has its own ground rules and conventions, but as the facilitator, you get to decide how to run a meeting your way.
Let’s take a look at some best practices for running effective meetings that can be applied to nearly all types of meetings.
What makes an effective meeting?
Great meetings require a lot of time and effort. From coming up with agenda items in advance to sending out a follow-up email with meeting notes and action items, it can seem like the cycle of planning and facilitating meetings never stops.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the meetings you run are effective. If they aren’t, meeting participants may walk away feeling like it was a waste of time.
Here are three signs that you know how to run a meeting:
1. You get things done (or make a plan to get things done).
Good meetings aren’t just for small talk – although icebreakers are important! Use your meeting time to take actionable steps or make concrete decisions. Not every action item can be handled right away, and some meetings are just brainstorming sessions. But if you don’t have a clear plan or meeting agenda to begin with, then you’re unlikely to have a successful meeting.
2. Meeting participants are engaged.
Look, Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and some types of meetings simply have a reputation for being boring. It’s not your job to entertain meeting participants, but it’s important to respect their time and make sure the meeting starts and ends when you said it would. Productive meetings keep participants engaged all the way to the end of the meeting – and keep them looking forward to the next meeting.
3. Your team takes good notes.
Meeting notes are some of the most powerful tools of effective meeting management. Without notes, can you really say a meeting happened? Meeting notes are a great way to keep team members on the same page and have a record of discussions and decision-making. As the meeting facilitator, it’s not your job to take notes yourself. But you can delegate the task to another participant or use an automated tool like Anchor AI.
How to prepare for a meeting in 6 steps
Running a meeting starts well before all of your participants gather in a boardroom (or on Zoom). Here are six things to do before your meeting starts:
1. Determine the purpose of the meeting
Don’t just plan a meeting because it’s on your to-do list. First, decide whether or not there’s a strong case for having a meeting or whether you can simply send the action items over email or Slack.
2. Decide on a meeting format
Next, figure out what kind of meeting you want to have. A weekly team meeting can be more casual, but a PTO meeting or board meeting may call for a more formal meeting template.
3. Choose a location
Do you need to rent a meeting room, or will you host a virtual meeting on Zoom? Virtual meetings can be more accessible for team members, but keep in mind that free Zoom accounts come with time limits.
4. Choose your participants – and their roles
Is your meeting open to everyone in your organization, or a select group of participants? Save time by delegating roles in advance, such as a note-taker or time-keeper, if you haven’t already.
Ask participants to contribute agenda items, and revisit any items that weren’t addressed at the last meeting. Estimate how much time each item will take, and be sure to leave enough time for introductions, announcements, and any other orders of business.
6. Send out meeting invites
Give meeting participants plenty of time to RSVP by sending out meeting invites well in advance. Be sure to set a start and end time for your meeting so attendees know how much time to set aside for it.
How to run a meeting
Once you’ve sent out your meeting invites and created a meeting agenda, you’re ready for your meeting to begin! Here are six steps to follow during the meeting itself:
1. Test your tech
If you’re having your meeting in person, make sure you have all of the gear you need, such as a projector or a whiteboard. If you’re hosting a virtual meeting, get there early to troubleshoot any issues on Zoom (and ask everyone to mute themselves!).
2. Make time for introductions
If everyone knows each other, you can skip this step. Otherwise, lead a round of introductions or icebreakers so everyone knows who’s who and what their role is in the meeting. This is also a good opportunity for latecomers to make an appearance without disrupting everyone!
3. Review the agenda
Now it’s time to go over the meeting agenda and make sure everyone’s on the same page. For some types of meetings, you may need to get consensus from the group before moving on to the next step.
4. Open up agenda items for group discussion
This step should make up the bulk of your meeting time. A skilled facilitator will make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak (including the introverts!), and the timekeeper will keep an eye on the clock and let you know if you’re running behind schedule.
5. Keep things positive
While the meeting is in progress, pay attention to body language for signs of boredom, stress, or fatigue. Check in with the group if things are getting tense, and take a break if necessary.
6. Review any action items
Finally, wrap up the meeting by reviewing any action items that need to be addressed before the next meeting. Make sure each team member knows what they’re responsible for.
What to do after the meeting
It can be tempting to wrap up your meeting and call it a day, but there are still a handful of things to do before you can congratulate yourself on running a successful meeting:
Review your notes
First, re-read your meeting notes while the meeting is still fresh in your memory so you can make any corrections. For some types of meetings, you may need the agreement of all participants before you can formally enter your meeting minutes into the record.
Send a follow-up email
Thank participants for attending, and remind them of any action items they need to complete. You may also want to summarize the meeting for other members of your organization who didn’t attend.
Schedule the next meeting
If you’re planning a follow-up meeting, get it on the calendar now so participants can prepare and send in their agenda items.
Don’t forget to take notes
If you want to know how to run a good meeting, you can break it into three stages: before, during, and after the meeting. With the right planning and a little bit of teamwork, it’s easy to keep your virtual or in-person meetings engaging and productive.
But if there’s one thing that really sets apart good meetings from bad meetings, it’s this: taking good notes. Effective meeting notes help keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that decision-makers know what’s going on in other departments.
Taking notes can be time-consuming, but Anchor AI makes it easy with our automated notetaking tool. Simply invite Anchor AI to your virtual meetings using your desktop or laptop, or upload a recording of your in-person meeting. Our AI-powered software will automatically identify individual speakers and action items for you.