5 tips for leading great meetings

Meetings have become so ubiquitous in our work lives that a day hardly passes without one. By definition, they’re intended to bring people together around a specific topic but most meetings are disorganized and unfocused. More importantly, they’re often unsatisfying and leave more questions unanswered.

Many teams at organizations of all sizes use meetings to stay on the same page about what everyone is working on, what’s been done, and what’s still left to do. The idea behind them is a good one, but the meetings we’re most familiar with– laundry lists of status updates – aren’t just counterproductive, they’re soul-sucking.

Asana Tip: Use Asana to get status updates, and spend meetings discussing ideas, setting priorities, and helping your teammates.

Here are 5 ways to lead more efficient and effective meetings:

1. Know when to message vs. when to meet

Most of the information we tend to cover in meetings doesn’t need to be communicated in a room, or to a roomful of people. When topics are too complex to message, it may be necessary to meet. If you feel like you’re spending too much time composing an “essay” about a topic, grab your team and have a five-minute in-person chat instead. Working remotely? There are lots of technologies that allow you to ‘meet’ face-to-face.

2. Capture goals ahead of time

Start adding things to your meeting agenda as they come up rather than creating a meeting agenda on the fly, as part of your meeting. This way, by the time the meeting starts, you’ll know what you want to cover, and what you hope to accomplish in the meeting itself. Bonus: you’ll gain back the first 10 minutes of the meeting, usually spent figuring out what you’ll be talking about.

Asana Tip: Add ideas and discussion topics to an Asana meeting agenda project as you think of them.

3. Timebox aggressively

Establish how long you’re going to spend on each topic, and stick to a schedule – even if a timer’s required to keep chatty individuals in check. Spending twenty minutes on a topic may lead to a better decision but if the conversation drags on endlessly, you won’t have time to discuss other important items and your one meeting will turn into two, three, or four.

4. Make clarity the goal of each agenda item

Your meeting agenda should reflect the larger goals of your team and your company. As you go through items, be sure to gather information and perspective from your team and identify next steps and owners for each resulting action item. If you can’t come to a clear decision about something, don’t debate or ruminate. Assign someone a next step to think about the solution and trust them to make the decision.

Giving individuals the power to make decisions can be tough at first (but what if they don’t make the decision I’d make?) but will ultimately help move projects forward and, as a result, empower teammates to do great work.

5. Guarantee follow through

Asana Tip: Assigning next steps and due dates is simple when you use Asana for meeting agendas.

By the end of the meeting, you should have a written list of next steps. Each action item should have a single owner and a concrete timeline. When you take this approach to documenting work and responsibilities, you’ll ensure that tasks won’t fall through the cracks and your next meeting will be that much more productive.

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