Unique Tips for Effective Team Meetings

Unique Tips for Effective Team Meetings

Meetings have a reputation for being a huge waste of time. Though meeting management is nothing new, here’s some recent advice from a few different sources that provide some unique tips for meetings in today’s modern world.

Build Relationships

In his article, “6 Ways To Get Rid of Bad Meetings, Once & For All,” David Dye lists these tips for effective meetings:

  1. Only hold meetings when they’re the most valuable use of all attendees’ time
  2. Build relationships
  3. Achieve results
  4. Get the right people in the room
  5. Set expectations about how a decision will be made
  6. Include accountability in every decision

Dye expands upon each of these tips with suggestions of how each can be done well. For example, when he says to “build relationships” (one that typically doesn’t make it on a “Top 6” list for effective meetings), he lists three types of conversations that can foster relationships:

  1. Cultural conversations to problem solve or celebrate
  2. Elephant-in-the-room conversations to openly discuss sensitive issues
  3. Mutual-help conversations to discuss how people, teams or departments can support one another

Giving People the Chance to Opt-In

OfficeVibe, an organization aimed at improving employee engagement, produced a video called “The Culture Blueprint” in which Rob Richman from Zappos was interviewed about creating a company culture.

Richman had some interesting ideas and hacks and takes the idea of empowerment to the extreme. For example, he suggests that one of the best culture hacks an organization can do is to make meetings completely optional. He says:

See who shows up. One of two things will happen. One is, if you’re afraid people might not show up, they might not. Which means your meeting’s not that relevant to their job, or it’s not that interesting and then that’s on you. But what oftentimes happens is that instead, the people who you thought will show up, might not, and the people who you thought might not have any interest, will show up. And then you’ll have one of the most energized meetings you ever had because everyone really, really wants to be there.

Distributed Meetings

Despite the agile recommendation of face-to-face communication, distributed meetings are a reality in today’s world. ven co-located teams often have conference calls in order to accommodate someone who may be working from home or off-site.

Sococo, a vendor that provides a tool for hosting distributed team meetings, also has a blog with great advice. In their piece, “10 Meeting Rules to Live By For Distributed Teams,” they recommend:

  1. Improve every day accessibility
  2. Just don’t have unnecessary meetings
  3. Choose the right medium
  4. Appoint a facilitator
  5. Implement time limits
  6. Stand up … or even “plank up
  7. Consider time zones and timing
  8. Commit to a meeting style
  9. Record meeting notes in accessible shared files
  10. Set expectations

Read their post for the complete run-down on the specifics.

I’ll add one more:

  • Make an effort to engage remote participants.

If there are both face-to-face participants and remote participates, have at least one person be responsible for making sure the remote participants can hear and know what’s going on in the room.

Remind people in the room to speak into microphones and if video cams aren’t available, have someone responsible for IM’ing remote employees to describe what’s going on and to check in on their ability to hear, see and participate.

We all know the common rules of running a smooth meeting, such as having a clear agenda. However, there are still many valuable hours wasted by people being in unproductive meetings.

What creative ideas do you have to make sure meetings are effective? Let me know in the comments below!


Yvette Francino has more than 30 years in the software development industry, and is an independent consultant, experienced agile leader, coach, author and trainer in various methodologies including SAFe, Scrum, Kanban and large-scale custom methodologies.

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