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How to Run Effective Remote Team Meetings

Your ultimate guide to weekly team meetings: tips, agendas and more…

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We’ve all been there.

Attended a weekly team meeting (begrudgingly) and wondered why it’s happening in the first place. Yes, the team leader did say that it was ‘going to be a very quick discussion where we only plan to discuss the important stuff’, but here we are 47 minutes later (you know because you’ve been keeping track), and there’s no end in sight.

In the forty-eighth minute, you wish someone had just summed this up as an email.

But here’s the thing. Weekly team meetings are actually very important. In fact, they serve many purposes: decision-making, brainstorming, mentoring, information gathering and sharing (and that’s just to name a few). Weekly meetings also help build a community, create camaraderie and foster accountability in the team. Best case scenario, weekly team meetings help companies maximise productivity.

Worst case scenario?

They become events that team members dread. The last thing anyone wants is for their team to think that a meeting is a massive waste of time and ‘something they would rather skip so that they can actually get some real work done instead.’

Life is too short to be running bad meetings. Instead, be an effective leader and get more done from your weekly team meetings using these people-approved tips:

Have a weekly team meeting agenda

You’d scoff at how simple this sounds but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong. There’s only one rule for any online meeting: If you don’t have a meeting agenda, don’t have a meeting. There’s no reason to meet just because there’s a meeting scheduled. If the same business can be completed over an email, send that out and cancel the meeting. You’ll be saving people a lot of time (and your company a lot of money) by skipping meetings that make no sense (or worse, your team dreads).

Prepare the meeting agenda in advance

Don’t wait until 15 minutes before the meeting to send out the agenda to the attendees. If you truly want it to be a team meeting, get everyone to collaborate on an agenda. Send out an early draft and ask for feedback. Don’t spend too much of your team’s time in creating an agenda for the weekly meeting. Ideally, you just need to give everyone a chance to look at the agenda and add key items they might want to discuss. Knowing what to expect from the meeting will get more people to participate in the meeting and share their ideas.

Remember that you won’t be able to discuss every single agenda item in the meeting (there’s never enough time), so prioritise the agenda items that are important and bench the ones that can be discussed next time.

Highlight the meeting agenda progress as you go

As you move through the meeting, provide real time updates of where you are in your agenda. To close out a section, summarise the key decisions that were made during that part of the agenda. This gives everyone a quick recap (if in case they zoned out) and ensures everyone’s up to speed before you move on to the next portion of the meeting agenda.

Stick to the time limit

If a meeting is supposed to last for thirty minutes, make sure you end at the thirty minute mark. Meetings that frequently go over the allotted time are meetings that teams dread attending.

Keep your eye on the clock. If you realise that you can’t discuss every possible agenda item before the time runs out, prioritise what absolutely must be discussed before the meeting is adjourned. Move agenda items that couldn’t get resolved to next week’s meeting agenda. If you can’t wait a whole week to discuss them, schedule another meeting (but only invite those team members who are affected by those action items.)

Be wary of various time zones

If you’re working in a remote setup, it’s likely that you will have teammates that are scattered around the globe. Find a time that’s convenient for everyone across various time zones, and encourage them to commit to attending the team meeting every week. Be sensitive to people’s needs and boundaries. 

The quintessential workaholic may enjoy staying back after normal business hours, but most people work to live and not the other way around.

Rotate who runs the meeting

You might be the team leader but that does not mean that you have to run every meeting - switch up the order and let everyone take turns to host the weekly sessions. By moving responsibilities around and mixing it up a bit, there’s a higher chance of leaving employees engaged and interested. 

When the same person runs the meeting every single time (no offence to them), it’s likely the meeting can get boring. Think about it this way. Infusing the weekly sprint with diverse personalities can make the meetings more lively and inclusive. Giving more people the platform to run the meetings is the equivalent of passing the mic (and making sure every voice is heard).

Check in on KPIs

When setting up a KPI, you need to make sure to set a specific target and time period for each one. KPIs should be easily measurable and have a defined target and tracking methodology. They should be actionable and aligned with the organisation's overall goals and strategy. Weekly team meetings are a good time to check in on KPIs and communicate the most important topics.

It is important to regularly review your KPIs, especially if they are interrelated. For example, if your company has a goal of reducing costs, you should check in on your progress toward that goal. If you don't see any progress, you should review the KPI's effectiveness. The objectives may have fallen short of your expectations. Your KPI’s should also evolve with the needs of your business.

Keep it optional

Does everyone on the team need to attend every weekly team meeting for the entire duration? Give people with smaller (but crucial) roles the option to present during the first half of the meeting. Invite them to stay for the remainder of the team meeting if they want to, but let them get back to work if they don’t think they’re needed.

Follow up on action items

One of the biggest criticisms about weekly meetings in general is how they don't always lead to actual action. It’s not that people are avoiding their duties, it’s more often that something else came up and they forgot about the deliverables.

Avoid this roadblock by incorporating actionable steps into your meeting agenda. Better yet, assign individual action items directly into your project management platform. This way they’ll remember to do it, and your meeting will actually produce tangible results for the next one.

Send meeting notes as a recap

One person needs to be designated to capture all of the meeting notes, summarise the takeaways, and then send the meeting minutes to everyone. This is a quick refresher for everyone who attended the meeting (and even those who couldn’t). Are you prone to zoning out during meetings? Now you can have a quick look in one crisp document!

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