How to Conduct Meetings Effectively: Tips from ZONE3000

How to Conduct Meetings Effectively: Tips from ZONE3000

IT Cluster IT Cluster

As the New Year begins, we are kicking off a new season of our collaborative articles with ZONE3000.

Today, we will be discussing an integral part of the workflow in any IT company โ€“ meetings. They come in various scales (one-on-one, team, etc.) and serve different purposes (planning, retrospectives, informational, situational, etc.).

For IT professionals, meetings are a familiar format for problem-solving, as they provide a quicker and more efficient way to discuss specific tasks, saving time in the process.

However, are meetings always an effective means of communication? Unfortunately, sometimes discussions reach an impasse, or the focus shifts away, turning the meeting into an obstacle. We will discuss how to avoid these issues.

General Rules

First and foremost, when planning a meeting, it’s essential to adhere to a set of classic rules that help organize and control the meeting:

  1. Set a time limit for the meeting and try to stick to it.
  2. Prepare for the meeting. Send meeting requests in advance, prepare notes, and share documents with meeting participants for discussion.
  3. Create an agenda. Tip: Trying to discuss all urgent issues in one meeting is not advisable. Plan the agenda, allocating time for discussions and summaries.
  4. Be punctual. If you’re running late, notify other participants and enter the meeting room quietly.
  5. Behave politely: avoid interrupting, let the speaker finish their thoughts, and express yourself constructively and succinctly (except during brainstorming meetings). If the platform allows, use features like “raise hand” to speak.

Following such discipline makes the meeting more structured. While estimating the meeting duration can be challenging at times, experience will help refine this skill.

In addition to general rules, other secrets will help you conduct meetings effectively.

Specify the questions to be answered

Merely announcing the discussion topic is not a very successful practice. It’s essential to specify the questions that will lead to a successful outcome for the meeting. This approach helps to clarify the meeting’s purpose, and participants can prepare for a productive discussion.

Start with Small Talk

We highly recommend dedicating a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting for non-work-related discussions. This practice helps set the tone for conversation and relax participants. You can share impressions of a new movie, inquire about colleagues’ well-being, or simply discuss the weather. Any small talk can provide a non-formal start to the conversation.

Plan the Meeting to Ensure Everyone Participates

There is an unwritten rule that a leader should speak no more than 30% of the time. Participant engagement is crucial, as the best ideas often emerge through discussion. Of course, informational meetings or presentations may be exceptions, but even then, time should be allocated for questions and answers.

Turn on Cameras

Online meetings have become a standard format. To make it somewhat closer to face-to-face communication, it’s advisable to turn on cameras. Seeing each other usually increases the meeting’s effectiveness.

Pay Attention to Participants’ Reactions

Cameras serve another crucial purpose โ€“ observing the reactions of other people. If you notice participants becoming distracted, it’s a signal that something is off. Take a pause. You can spice up the presentation with an example or ask a question. Your task is to regain the audience’s attention.

Remember the Boundary Between Professional and Personal

No heated discussion at a work meeting should affect your relationships with colleagues. Even if you fundamentally disagree with others’ positions, it should not impact your relationships or collaborative tasks. Maintaining healthy relationships within the team is crucial.

Provide Constructive Feedback and Accept it Without Offense

Giving and receiving feedback is an art, and mastering it is essential. If you are providing feedback, remember to evaluate the work or action, not the person. Start with praise and end your speech on a positive note. This increases the chances that your words will be received calmly and considered for the future.

If you are the one receiving feedback, perceive it as advice for improving your work rather than criticism. Thank the person, calmly reflect on what was said, and conclude.

Be Proactive

Often, especially in meetings with many participants, people hesitate to voice their opinions. However, it’s crucial to realize that everyone is working towards a common goal, and every opinion matters. Even if your idea is not used in its original form, it may lay the groundwork for another solution that emerges during the discussion. Therefore, the proactivity of each participant is essential in any meeting.

We wish all your meetings to be structured and productive. A successful meeting can not only save time but also bring forth many new ideas for the future.

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