It’s easier to let things fall into a routine at work instead of continuing to improve. Team meetings are a classic example of this. What should be an incredible opportunity to really connect with your team is often simply a place to share status updates and discuss problems.
In this article, we’ll explore:
Are you getting the most from your team meetings?
At some organizations, team meetings are simply an exercise in showing up and reporting on work progress — but they can be so much more.
The best team meetings:
- Create room for honesty and open communication
- Give team members a dedicated place to connect
- Empower your team members to ask questions and seek support
- Give you a place to address issues and concerns
- Encourage creativity, innovation, and collaboration
- Give you a space to celebrate and praise your team members
Team meetings are a valuable way for team members to connect, understand what’s happening, and make progress on your individual and shared goals. They’re a space to talk, collaborate, listen, and innovate — so use them to their full advantage.
15 expert tips to help you run effective team meetings
Hosting an engaging team meeting takes effort, but it’s well worth it.
To help you transform your team meetings from nothing special to a highlight of your week, here are our best tips on how to run an engaging team meeting.
1. Set a goal for your team meeting
Before you can host a successful team meeting, you need to decide what success looks like.
Set a clear goal, whether that’s to explore ways you can work better together as a team or to brainstorm ideas for a new product launch. Focus on the purpose of the meeting as you plan your agenda and set a meeting time.
At this stage, you might decide a staff meeting isn’t the right format for this conversation — maybe you need a daily standup in Slack or Microsoft Teams instead to capture people’s status updates.
2. Collaborate on a team meeting agenda
Plan an effective meeting agenda with all the topics you want to cover and a rough amount of time you’ll spend on each. Once you have a basic meeting agenda template ready, use our Meeting Prep template to gather views from your team members. Then, use that feedback to finalize the agenda.
Getting your team members’ input will help you turn your team meeting agenda from a generic list of agenda items into an engaging, collaborative outline that belongs to everyone.
3. Share materials in advance
Don’t be tempted to save documents and materials for the meeting itself — send them to everyone in advance so they can fully engage with what’s happening during the meeting.
Sharing information before the meeting gives your team members more time to prepare, analyze, and gather their thoughts. You’ll receive more insightful contributions, save time reviewing documents during the meeting, and be able to make progress faster.
4. Stick to your agenda
A key part of great meeting management is staying focused on your agenda. There’s always the potential for a random comment to throw the whole team meeting off course — it’s your job as the leader to help guide everyone through the meeting.
Give every agenda item enough time to be discussed, then recap at the end of each to summarize what you’ve talked about. Then, move onto the next item until you’re finished with all the topics you wanted to cover. Encourage people to save other ideas for an “any other business” section at the end of the meeting.
5. Choose the right meeting space
The physical and virtual environment can change how your team members engage with a meeting. It’s easy to lose focus in any space that’s too visually cluttered or stimulating.
Take your team members away from their usual workspace if it’s possible, even if that’s just by using a video conferencing app like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. For in-person meetings, a quiet meeting space or a cozy corner of the office are great places to meet up and talk.
With both in-person and virtual meetings, it’s important to look for ways to make your meeting more accessible and supportive for everyone. Take a look at our guide on how to build inclusivity into remote meetings for a great introduction on how to do this with your remote team.
6. Lead with honesty and transparency
As a team leader, you’re often tasked with sharing bad news or facing challenging situations where people need extra support. It’s important to stay true to your values of honesty and transparency and give your team members the resources they need to handle their issues.
Keep your team members informed at every stage of the process, project, or timeline — even through the hard times. Be generous with talking about company goals, opportunities, and challenges. Offer genuine feedback, and encourage your team members to do the same. Being honest, open, and transparent with your team members is just one of the ways you can lead better virtual meetings.
7. Empower everyone to express their thoughts
Team meetings are a space for connection and collaboration. Look for ways to make introverted employees feel welcome, so your entire team can participate in their own way.
Use Polly to your advantage here to run engaging team meetings that empower everyone to make their voice heard. Host a Zoom icebreaker as a way to warm up the room before you begin the main meeting. Run live polls in your meetings to capture feedback in real time, with the option of responding anonymously, and allow for processing time so people can consider before they respond. Ask your team what works best for them, then use this to create a more engaging and inclusive experience.
8. Stay focused on the discussion
The workplace is full of distractions, especially for a remote team who can easily pick up the phone or switch tabs to check notifications. Encourage everyone to actively engage with the meeting and avoid distractions.
Keeping your focus on the discussion that’s taking place is a key part of virtual meeting etiquette. It shows respect, means you don’t get lost, and makes it easier to play an active role in the discussion.
9. Use a note-taking tool
If you’re meeting virtually, use a tool to record the meeting notes to save time and make your meeting more engaging. Tools like Otter.ai have the functionality to understand what your team members are saying and create an automatic transcription of the meeting notes.
When you free up your notetaker, they can actually engage in the conversation instead of feeling like a bystander. It also saves time, as they don’t need to put together the meeting minutes and send them around to everyone.
10. Be proactive with timekeeping
Nobody likes a meeting that runs over its scheduled time. It’s a sign of bad meeting management and can signal a lack of respect for everyone’s time and schedules. Be proactive with managing your time so you stay on track and don’t create unintended calendar conflicts for your team members.
To help you keep to your scheduled meeting time, set a rough time for each agenda item. Check the clock regularly to keep to time and don’t be afraid to step in and move the discussion on if you’re running over. As the meeting leader, this is a key part of your role in helping the meeting run smoothly.
11. Make time for celebrations and praise
Create space in your team meeting agenda to celebrate your team members’ hard work, teamwork, and success. Share happy personal news, celebrate client wins, and express gratitude for support and amazing work.
Encourage your team members to share about their success at your team meetings, but also give them other ways to share good news. Encourage them to send a private message, or mention it through their weekly team check-in instead.
12. Add an element of fun
Who says that a productive meeting can’t also be an opportunity to smile, laugh, and experience joy? Work some lighter moments into your team meeting to help you build relationships, bond over your shared knowledge, and get into a great mood.
It’s easy to add fun to your meetings with Polly. You can quickly set up and run Trivia in Slack or Microsoft Teams, or host some icebreakers in Zoom.. Take a look at our five-minute team building activities for more simple ways to liven up your meetings.
13. Set and follow up on action items
Meetings are for discussion, but they’re also for decision making and getting a step closer to your goal. Demonstrate accountability and make progress by setting and following up on action items.
Set clear actions and assign them to meeting participants, so everyone knows who’s responsible for which task. Check in with your team members to see what progress has been made, and ask for feedback on this at the start of the next meeting.
14. Ask for feedback after your meeting
We often think of team meetings as purely functional, but your team members might have amazing ideas on how they can offer even more value. There’s room for improvement in almost every meeting. Even if you run great meetings now, you might uncover an idea that makes them even better.
Getting feedback from your team members is easy with Polly. Use our Meeting Feedback template to gather thoughts, ideas, and comments on how your last meeting went and what you can improve on. What’s great is you can send this directly in Slack, so you can capture feedback without any friction.
15. Make your meetings a seamless part of your team culture
How you spend your time together as a team plays a huge role in your overall team culture. Make your team meetings a central part of what it means to be part of your team, and use them as an opportunity to shape and guide your culture and connections with each other.
Look for ways to make your team meetings feel more aligned with your team culture goals and experience. Sprinkle in some fun poll questions to see what people thought of the latest episode of the show you all watch, or ask people to share their favorite photo or meme from the week. Let your weekly team meeting be a mix of practical discussion and a place to connect with each other.
Run more engaging team meetings with Polly
Virtual team meetings shouldn’t just be a place to share what you’re working on and hear about the latest company news. They’re the perfect space to connect, collaborate, and innovate.
Bring Polly onboard to help you run better, more engaging team meetings. Make things fun with trivia or quizzes, empower all voices with live polls and anonymous feedback, and work better together with collaborative agenda planning. Embrace better meeting management with Polly as your co-pilot.
Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.