Would you agree that without meetings, it would be nearly impossible to run your business? Meetings allow us as managers and leaders to share important information with teams, solicit feedback regarding pertinent projects or challenges, delegate projects and tasks, and lastly they help bring the whole company together to foster culture and camaraderie.

Most teams dread the idea of attending their weekly meeting with their manager. This is likely because there is a lack of preparation or structure, or there is no valid intention behind the meeting. Most of the time managers are not prepared to run an effective meeting, thus wasting everyone’s time.

Whether you hold 1-on-1, small group, full team, daily, weekly, or monthly meetings, the goal is to make meetings more productive and create more engagement at the same time. Here is a brief outline of what makes an effective meeting:

Have a Clear Purpose

Your team must know why they are attending this meeting and they must understand the outcome that is to be achieved; Everyone at the meeting should understand what role he or she plays in the overall outcome. It is important to share the purpose of the meeting and the desired outcome that you are looking to achieve, that way everyone is on the same page. If you cannot clearly define the purpose of the meeting, then you should not be holding a meeting.

Instill a Structure

Your meetings should be clear and concise. Understand that your teams are stepping away from their desks and projects to be at this meeting. Respect their time by utilizing your meeting time wisely, including starting and ending on time. Open up the meeting by sharing the purpose of why you are gathering together. You may choose to create an agenda that you follow to ensure that you are sharing pertinent information with your team. You may also choose to have each department share a quick update. At the end of the meeting, restate the purpose of the meeting and reiterate next steps that need to be taken by yourself and each department.

Foster an Engaging Environment

A meeting should consist of more than just you speaking to your team. For a meeting to be effective, leadership and team members must participate and bring value to the group. A great way to create engagement in your meetings is to have each department share their victories and challenges. This opens up the dialogue among the entire meeting and allows other departments to share insight or suggestions. (Bonus: not only does this increase meeting engagement, it also helps build a collaborative culture within among the various departments). Another great way to drive engagement is to ask questions that require participation from the group.

Create and Share an Action Plan

During each meeting, take notes on important project updates, specific deadlines that have been set, what is expected to be completed before the next meeting, and anything else that was shared that should be reiterated to the entire team. After the meeting, arrange these in a document, or what we call an ‘Action Plan’, and share it with your entire team — email it out to everyone and post a copy on the office wall or the breakroom refrigerator. Sharing this with your team post-meeting will reiterate the purpose of the meeting and everyone’s role in the desired outcome.