Just as there are plenty of meetings that don’t need to take place, there are times when it’s vitally important to bring the team together. Certain things need to be handled in a group setting, not via email or a series of one-on-one conversations. For these, you need to hold a meeting.
You may need to hold an information-sharing meeting. In this case, you have something that needs to be communicated in a way that ensures everyone gets the same message. Emails can be interpreted in a variety of ways. There’s no way to gauge the intensity of emotion while merely reading an email. Individual conversations can easily veer off into the weeds. Discussion of unrelated topics could alter or cloud the information being discussed.
By disseminating information during a meeting, you can ensure everyone hears the same message. You only need one conversation and can easily check for understanding by asking questions as well as gauging body language and facial expressions. Attendees have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions and the entire group benefits from hearing the answers.
You may need to hold a decision-making meeting. Here, there’s a problem to solve and you are looking to gather input. Those in attendance have a stake in the outcome of this decision and should therefore be willing to help make sure all necessary information is provided so that the best possible move can be settled on. The interaction of the group is important. Stakeholders will have differing opinions and the interplay of various viewpoints allows everyone to understand the bigger picture.
Decisions could be made by the group, via a vote or compromise, or by the leader after considering all potential inputs. Attendees should understand the role they are to play and the timeline of the decision being made so that critical information is not withheld or delayed. By including everyone in the meeting, no feels left out and all should agree to support the decision once made.
You may need to hold a brainstorming meeting. These meetings are designed to generate ideas and bring out the creativity in people. A meeting such as this could be held as a precursor to making a decision or to help specify details related to decisions already made. Allowing people to innovate in a group setting helps solidify team bonds, boost engagement, and ramp up energy levels.
Brainstorming can be difficult to facilitate, especially if participants have no foreknowledge of the task. Be sure to prepare people ahead of time by providing as much information as possible and allowing time for individuals to research and develop ideas on their own. Once the group is together, this will provide a head start to idea generation and fertile ground for group interaction.
You may need to hold a skill-development meeting. Team meetings are a great opportunity for coaching. Participants can improve their skill set either by taking an active role in skill practice or by observing and providing feedback. Learning from the example of peers is a great way to speed up skill development, especially when the trial-and-error aspect of practice is shared.
Facilitating skill-development meetings can be tricky and requires adequate preparation on the part of the meeting facilitator. Make sure to plan enough time for everyone to participate. Ensure any job aids or necessary materials are on hand. And be ready to demonstrate the skill yourself in order to provide attendees with an example to work from.
There are definitely times when a meeting is not the right solution; but there are plenty of times when a meeting is just what the team needs. Use meetings effectively so that your team responds enthusiastically, contributing more than just their presence. Do you have regularly-scheduled team meetings? What aspects could be improved?
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