How to Run Effective Meetings: 5 Tips To Boost Productivity

Justin Flitter
September 2021

How to Run Effective Meetings Tip #1:

Change the way your organisation defines and runs meetings

The phrase “another meeting that could have been an email” is so popular that it has become its own meme, found on coffee mugs and gifs. There’s truth in it too. The reason why meetings are often boring and ineffective is because they shouldn’t have been meetings in the first place.

If one person is talking, it’s a presentation. It’s not a meeting. Tweet this

If your team is sharing what they’re doing for the day, it’s a status update. It’s not a meeting. Tweet this

If you don’t have an agenda, it’s a conversation. It’s not a meeting. Tweet this

All the above examples are often classed as meetings. But if you’re looking to increase the productivity of your meetings, it’s helpful to make a clear definition of what an effective meeting is and how they should be run in your organisation.

Sharing information is a classic example of a meeting that could have been an email or brief conversation. If you host status update meetings every morning and find that most of your staff drift off to their emails, show up late, or eat their breakfast in them — it might be time to stop hosting this as a meeting. Consider moving this information to a real-time chat application like Slack, Telegram, or Microsoft Teams. Everyone can add in what they are working on for the day to provide the same visibility. Further conversations can happen between individuals affected, without it becoming a daily time waster for the entire group.

By establishing a process that meetings are to be set with a clear purpose, agenda, and actionable outcome, you and your team will run more effective meetings. You’ll also stop giving meetings in your organisation a bad rap, and people will come prepared.

How to Run Effective Meetings Tip #2:

Fill your meeting with contributors, not spectators

When creating your agenda for a meeting, think about who really needs to be there. Do all the participants have a talking point on the agenda or action item? Do they have expertise in this area? Will the discussion impact their work directly?

A meeting is not a spectator sport — you don’t need people to watch or sit in to listen. To run an effective meeting, you should focus your attendee list on active contributors. Even if the outcomes influence someone’s work or establish tasks for them, they might be better placed receiving this as an instruction over email or a brief, rather than sitting in on every meeting.

By focusing on active contributors, you are more likely to succeed in running an effective meeting where all participants are engaged and speaking, not scrolling Instagram under the desk or putting your call on mute in the background to focus on something else.  

How to Run Effective Meetings Tip #3:

Use PlayBooks to create a smart agenda

To run an effective meeting, you should be armed with a really powerful meeting app. We’re not talking about note takers, online whiteboards or even video conferencing. Agendas are the holy grail of an effective meeting, so the most important tool in your arsenal should be a smart agenda app.

So what’s the difference between an agenda and a smart agenda?
Agendas keep participants focused on what matters and moving forward toward outcomes.

A smart agenda knows exactly what you should be talking about and gives you the solutions to discuss. A smart agenda gives you another expert in your corner. In fact, it knows exactly what your meeting should be about (even if you don’t!).

How, you say? Well PlayBooks isn’t an ordinary meeting app. PlayBooks is an agenda tool powered by professionals, wizards, gurus, and any other buzzword you want to use for a master of their field. These are our expert contributors. Big brains from across a ton of industries create PlayBooks that not only tell you what questions you should be discussing in your meetings, it gives a list of actionable talking points to boot.

By using PlayBooks to create agendas, you can select the topics you need to discuss and instantly pull up suggested questions for your group and their action items.

For example: A brainstorming session revealed that your team would like to run a crowdfunding campaign. A typical agenda might list ‘crowdfunding campaign’ as a dot point for open discussion. A smart agenda from PlayBooks will pick the brains of the good people at PledgeMe to give you six clear questions to start with, along with helpful talking points and actionable tasks for your team to work with. Simply select ‘Funding - Crowdfunding Campaigns’ from the PlayBooks content library and you’re all set.

How to Run Effective Meetings Tip #4:

Create internal PlayBooks for your company library
Knowledge is power. Sometimes in organisations, that knowledge tends to live inside the minds of your best and brightest. Effective meetings shouldn’t hinge on one person. By getting your staff to create internal PlayBooks for your company or team, you can put together your own library of information and procedures — ready to call on at any time. So if a key employee is unwell or even leaves, that knowledge stays with you. It’s also super handy for repeated meetings like onboarding, employee KPI reviews, and project reviews.

This means even if you don’t need key insights from other industries on-tap, PlayBooks can still help power your meetings. It keeps your organisation’s knowledge right where it is going to be the most useful to employees.

How to Run Effective Meetings Tip #5:

Get the agenda in everyone’s hands 12+ hours before the meeting

All good surprises should involve cake. If there’s no cake, don’t make it a surprise. Surprises in meetings can derail the whole process into a long-winded discussion where participants feel unprepared or caught off guard.

Supplying an agenda at the start of the meeting doesn’t give people a lot of time to prepare for a productive discussion. Consider that everyone has a different way of processing information. By providing an agenda a day ahead of your meeting, you give everyone a fair chance to digest and comprehend the questions. They can also ask to have input or include any extra items ahead of time, rather than having participants spring new items on the group right when everyone is ready to break for lunch.

With PlayBooks, everyone has access to the same online agenda, as well as the comprehensive library of information to support the agenda questions and talking points. By sending the agenda out ahead of time, you’ll have a meeting room full of clued-up participants. Even if your team isn’t in the same room, they’ll all be on the same page.

Organise your next productive meeting

Don’t take our word for it. Give PlayBooks a test run and see how effective and productive your next meeting could be. Join PlayBooks today for a free trial.