Meeting Design for Team Cohesion and Performance

Hybrid meeting with attendees in person and on screen

Does your company have productive and engaging meetings? Meeting design is an aspect of business that’s often overlooked, but it’s the secret to maintaining successful teams.

Superior meeting facilitation incorporates innovative communication and collaboration principles that encourage people to work together productively. Here’s an overview of the best practices in modern meeting design.

Meeting Facilitation: How Do You Design a Meeting?

Let’s start with some basic meeting design tactics. A well-run, successful meeting requires planning and thoughtful strategy. You must consider the processes that your team members will use during the meeting. They may be defining a problem or wondering why the topic is on the agenda. The team will also evaluate solutions to the problem. Hence, the agenda must be clearly defined, and it is a good idea to plan the agenda in advance.

Embrace a Fully Hybrid Meeting Design Model

New statistics show 60% of employers plan to offer their employees the opportunity to do at least some work from home. At many companies, it’s now common to have meetings where half the people are present in person and the rest are working from remote locations.

However, these meetings don’t always go smoothly. There are often technical issues that deliver a choppy, disjointed experience for meeting attendees. This inhibits collaboration, and it shows the importance of implementing meeting processes and platforms that support strong communication.

Respect Attendees’ Preferences

During the meeting design process, it is important to consider your attendees’ overall meeting preferences. A meeting’s attendees are most likely to feel engaged when they also feel welcomed and respected. Unfortunately, meeting locations and times are often dictated by company managers without input beforehand.

Instead, reach out to all potential attendees in advance and ask when and how they’d prefer to meet. Each person, team, and company has unique needs. A Monday 9 a.m. meeting might be poor timing for a large team of late-night shift workers, but it could be a great choice for a group of salespeople who enjoy having early morning coffee and getting pumped up for the week.

The key here is: Ask! Incorporate employees’ feedback into upcoming meeting schedules, and show them that the company cares about respecting their time.

Be As Specific As Possible

Researchers at the Wharton School of Business found that the most productive meetings are focused intensely on just 1 or 2 main topics. This allows participants to stay fully engaged as they work together to form actionable plans to get things accomplished. A successful meeting starts with proper meeting facilitation and intentions. 

The Wharton researchers call this concept “less fluff, more stuff.” It means leaders are responsible for paring down the agendas of their meetings to be shorter and more carefully targeted to focus on a certain set of key company goals. In your meeting design planning process, be sure to be concise and purposeful. First, consider who you need in the meeting. If you’re planning for a project team, consider the perspectives and roles of all the individuals involved. For example, some meetings need decision makers, while others need people with varied experiences and roles. Some meetings assume that everyone has the same context, and therefore skip introductions altogether. If you can’t make a decision about who needs to be present at each meeting, prepare homework ahead of time so you don’t waste everyone else’s time and energy.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that your company’s meetings have to be cold, ruthless sessions that are totally devoid of human interaction. It’s still important to engage in small talk at the start of meetings, as long as it’s limited to a few minutes of introductory time.

Practice Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Most of the country’s top leaders spend as much as 25 hours a week in meetings. This is up from just 10 to 15 weekly hours a few decades ago. It’s no wonder so many leaders feel overwhelmed by meetings!

Some meetings are more productive than others. What sets good meetings apart from bad meetings? Psychologists say it’s emotionally intelligent leadership

High-EQ leaders practice emotionally intelligent meeting techniques like:

  • Choosing diverse locations and topics for meetings
  • Starting each meeting on a note of positivity
  • Sharing individual wins and accomplishments
  • Building rapport and trust
  • Clarifying emotions and concerns
  • Stimulating creative thinking

Leaders with high EQ have good communication skills and are skilled at fostering conversations that lead to accountability, productivity, and profitability. Contrary to popular belief, emotional intelligence is a learned skill and not an inborn trait. In other words, it’s something your leaders can practice. To learn more about developing leaders, please take a look at our whitepaper, The Importance of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders.

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders White paper - Download

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