After my recent series on internal business meetings, a reader asked me for advice on running a first, team-wide meeting. 

This reader has a growing business and decided to start team-wide meetings from the new year, and his question is, quite simply: “Where do I start? How should I run my first and subsequent team meetings?”

Without getting into the details specific to his work, here is some advice that applies to all such situations. 

Start at the end

Something that I say in many situations: determine the outcome before hand. 

Start not with what should happen in the meeting, but what should happen after the meeting. 

How do you expect your team to have changed? What new information or action will they be able to take after the meeting that they could not before?

The idea to have these meetings presumably comes from something you want to improve in your business. Your desired outcome must be changes in their work or behavior after the meeting has taken place, so start there: what happens after the meeting is over?

Build to that end

Describe what a successful meeting looks like, and what needs to happen in the meeting, to create the changes you want afterwards. 

Make sure it is not merely “sharing information”; for that, all you need is a memo. 

What interactions have to happen and how will you lead those discussions? How do you want the participants to interact with one another and with you? 

Create an agenda for the meeting with a structure that encourages the right interactions to initiate the change you want to see. 

Prepare

Practice. 

As in: know how you will stick to your agenda, keep conversations on track, and not go over time. Prepare your questions and the discussion boundaries.

Let people know what to expect. Will they have to prepare anything before hand? Bring anything to the meeting? Answer particular questions?

And then make sure that you know what to expect. What are the most effective ways to get group participation? How will people understand what is expected of them afterwards?


To run your meetings on a simple system, contact me for a Master Your Meetings workshop.