Team Meeting Ground Rules

Michele Warg
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You likely receive work-related memos, emails, texts or phone messages from colleagues on a daily basis, but nothing beats team meetings when it comes to sharing company information, getting feedback from co-workers or collaborating on ideas in the workplace. If you're having trouble organizing an effective meeting strategy, these team meeting ground rules can help.

1. Set an Agenda

An agenda helps set a professional tone for the meeting, as it lets workers know there are legitimate issues to address. Meeting agendas also keep attendees focused on one topic at a time. When you have an agenda, employees won't have the opportunity to ramble on about any topic they choose. If someone goes on a tangent, it's easy to direct that person back to the topic at hand. Prepare and distribute the agenda to your team members in advance, and encourage them to create questions or make comments related to each topic.

2. Choose a Purpose

Decide exactly what you want to accomplish during the meeting, making sure you're as specific as possible. For example, if you're meeting with team members to discuss plummeting sales, the purpose of the meeting might be to come up with a new sales strategy. An emergency team meeting might focus on one or two pertinent topics, while a monthly team meeting might be a continuation or update on topics that were discussed the previous month.

3. Schedule a Meeting Time

Meetings can be inconvenient for busy workers who have a hard time getting away from their workstations. A scheduled meeting time gives team members the opportunity to clear their schedules in advance. It's also important to determine how much time you need to spend on each topic before scheduling the meeting time. Keep your eye on the clock as the meeting progresses to ensure you don't run over.

4. Create Rules

To ensure the meeting runs as smoothly as possible, create meeting rules. For example, only allow attendees to ask questions at the end of each topic, and request that employees raise their hands when they have a question. Ask workers who must leave early to sit towards the door to minimize distractions. Smartphones can be a huge distraction during a team meeting, ask attendees to silence their smartphones before the meeting begins, and implement a "no texting" rule as well.

5. Select a Facilitator

Have a manager or any authority figure within the organization facilitate the meeting. This person has the important job of ensuring each item on the agenda is discussed, and he's also responsible for making sure the meeting starts and ends on time. The facilitator redirects people who are getting off track and encourages feedback from attendees. He also welcomes questions and has the knowledge needed to address them appropriately.

Make team meetings a regular part of your work environment. It might take some experimentation and practice to create a meeting system that works for your organization. Don't worry, as these five ground rules can help you develop a team meeting strategy that encourages communication among workers and enhances the way you make important decisions within your organization.

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