Posted on August 5, 2014 · Posted in Project Management, Small Business, Software

What do you do when you receive a meeting invite? You might groan, feel annoyed, or think, “Why do I need to go to this?” This is often how others react as well. Why does it have to be this way? How do entrepreneurs and project managers get team embers not only excited to attend meetings, but ensure they are effective and valuable for everyone? Here are some easy ways to run an effective meeting.

1.     Appeal to learning styles. Regardless of what you are trying to accomplish in a meeting, it’s the how that’s important. Tailor your topics to each learning style present in the room or on the phone. For example, it’s a good idea to present visual aids such as a hand out or sharing an electronic document or chart, or a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation that can be viewed and shared with the team. This method will engage your visual learners.

Having an open conversation, a Q&A session, or lecture will appeal to your auditory learners. Remember, these are the folks that are likely going to ask a lot of questions or leave them until the very end.

Finally, your tactile learners are going to be the fidgety bunch that won’t be able to sit still. Asking them to participate in a hands-on activity will appeal to this group. If there isn’t enough time allotted for an activity, then having pens or pads of paper available on a conference room table will be enough to keep them busy.

2.     Set an agenda…and stick to it. One of the most annoying things we encounter in a meeting is when conversation topics veer off course. Then, suddenly we are out of time, and meeting attendees leave or get off the phone with the same questions they had before the meeting, or worse, with the same unanswered question: “why was I supposed to go to that meeting?” Avoid this by setting an agenda, as well as allotting a time limit for each topic you would like to cover. If more time is needed on a certain topic, then schedule a follow up session for later on or leave room for some flexibility in your schedule or agenda. And don’t forget to leave time for questions and answers at the end.

3.     Action items. One of the best ways to ensure that information and tasks are taken away from the meeting is to assign action items to each team member. Be sure to assign yourself your own action items. This will make team members feel like you are on the same playing field with them and that you are a true leader, regardless of your position. Each team member should be fully aware of their tasks and responsibilities before the next meeting.

4.     What have I worked on since the last meeting? Prior to meeting again, whether that is in a few days or a week depending on the project or availability, each team member should discuss with the team what they worked on since the last meeting or what they accomplished. This will help keep goals and tasks focused and centered, and will also avoid veering off topic. It will also keep the air positive throughout the meeting.

Meetings don’t have to be annoying or the one thing that everyone dreads. With a little time management and extra effort to appeal and engage various learning styles, a meeting doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. Running an effective meeting will also improve your leadership style and allow you to truly connect with your team members.

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