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  • Roz Duffy

Six tips for effective and collaborative meetings

How can we come together in a meaningful way? As part of our exploration of "community at work," team coach, facilitator and creative strategist Roz Duffy shares six top tips for running effective and collaborative meetings.


Two women chatting in a meetings.

If there’s one thing you can count on in the world of work, especially with the rise of remote work, it’s that you’re going to be in meetings—probably a lot of them! You’ve likely experienced meetings that dragged on or felt unproductive. Yet, you also know a well-run meeting can boost team collaboration, creativity, and decision-making. Meetings are where we connect and learn more about each other.

Here are some ideas to add new energy to your meetings, whether they need a major revamp or you’re just looking for some fresh inspiration.


1. Define a purpose for your meeting

Has it been a while since you stopped and asked each other why you are meeting? It can be helpful to evaluate and articulate the purpose of the meeting to ensure that you should even have the meeting.

Here are some questions to ask to establish that purpose:

  • Why are we meeting? (Yes! Start here!)

  • What is the desired outcome?

  • Who should attend?

According to Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, defining a purpose is key to transforming gatherings from mundane to meaningful.


(Note: We’re reading The Art of Gathering at the next MeaningSphere Book Club on December 21. Join us!)


2. Create a collaborative agenda

If you’ve ever been in a meeting without an agenda, it might feel tedious or all over the place. Creating and updating a collaborative agenda between meetings helps you maximize your time together so you have a greater chance of accessing deep work later on. Don’t let that meeting turn into another meeting if it doesn’t have to.


3. Share leadership by rotating the facilitator

Mix things up by changing who leads the meeting. Recognize that not everyone may feel comfortable taking the lead initially, and that's fine. Facilitating is a skill that grows with practice, and a well-structured meeting can ease this transition. Remember, leadership in meetings isn't limited to facilitation. Roles like note-taking and timekeeping are also important and can be shared or rotated, fostering diverse skill development. Tools like a collaborative agenda can help simplify these roles, making them more accessible for everyone.



Close up of hands collaborating on a whiteboard


4. Ask a check-in question at the beginning

At MeaningSphere, our meetings start with a check-in question. It’s a great way to get to know your teammates and also to have a little fun. The questions can be seasonal, introspective, light, and fun. You might be wondering why this matters, but it can have a big impact. Creating rapport, camaraderie, and care across team members helps create a stronger environment for collaboration, creativity, and great work. For inspiration, explore resources like this check-in question generator.


5. Keep your eye on the time

Whether you, as the facilitator, keep time, or have a designated timekeeper, make sure that you are moving through the agenda and giving each item the attention that it needs. If a discussion starts running long, encourage the team to bottom line it, and move on. When needed, make a decision to take it offline and follow up as necessary.


6. Wrap up with clear action items

Ever left a meeting wondering, "So, what exactly are we doing?" To avoid that, wrap up with clear action items and decisions. Ensure these are recorded in a shared space, whether it’s in your collaborative agenda, in your shared meeting notes, or in your team chat. Leverage collaborative tools like Asana, Trello, or Google Docs to make this process easier. These will allow you to tag specific people and add dates and deadlines.


So, there you have it—a few simple, yet mighty, strategies to turn your meetings from time-sinks into treasure troves of productivity and collaboration. The key is to experiment and find what resonates with your unique team dynamic. Remember, the goal isn't just to have meetings for the sake of meetings—it's to create spaces where everyone feels heard, valued, and ready for the challenges ahead.


So, what will you try out first?


 

More ways to explore what works for you at work:

  • Subscribe to receive thoughtful insights and resources about meaningful work.

  • Join our virtual Book Club – this month we’re discussing Priya Parker's The Art of Gathering, about making gatherings more intentional, memorable, and meaningful.

  • Take part in a Meaning Circle – a unique small-group experience for thoughtful exchange of different perspectives on what might make your work life more meaningful.

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