Leading meetings can be really hard, no matter how good you are at doing your job. You might be fearful that you'll lose people's attention, that what you're presenting isn't compelling, or maybe even that your ideas aren't as well thought out as you'd hoped.
No matter the case, there are a variety of powerful hacks and techniques you can use to ensure that your next meeting is a great one. Here are 5 to try out for your next meeting.
1. Think about why you're holding the meeting
Before even beginning to organize logistics, it's useful to take some time to figure out the reason for the meeting in the first place. What's the purpose of the meeting? Why have a meeting instead of just making a call or sending an email or text? Who do you want to include? Why do you want them to be there--what do they add to the occasion? Asking yourself these questions may help you realize that you don't really need a meeting to begin with; in fact, your time--and everyone else's--might actually be better spent if you more precisely target the why and the who of your meeting.
2. Make an agenda
If you stumble into a meeting without planning ahead in some amount detail, it'll surely end up being less effective than you may have hoped. Creating an agenda for your meeting does more than keep you on track too--it helps others know what they should prepare for the meeting, and keep from wasting valuable time.
3. Know who must be at the meeting
Identifying the key players to be present will allow the meeting to be run much more efficiently, especially if you narrow the invitation specifically to those who really do need to participate. Take care, however, to encourage all relevant parties to be present rather than leaving groups out by accident. If certain key members were unable to attend, have a plan for distribution or recap of materials.
4. Stay focused
Make sure you begin and end the meeting on time, and that everyone comes prepared with whatever they need to participate fully in it. Lead by example by coming with your notes, your agenda, and everything set up and ready to go. Ask pointed questions of participants so they will be encouraged to be prepared. Everyone else will follow suit.
5. Conduct a wrap-up
Many leaders skip this crucial step, but particularly in long meetings, it can be very easy to forget why everyone got together in the first place. It'll also reinforce responsibilities that follow the meeting, as well as summarize key points and goals of whatever project you're working on.