How to plan more effective and productive weekly meetings

By Allo Team Mar 20, 2022
Mar 20, 2022

Businesses all over the world have shifted to remote work in the face of the COVID19 pandemic.

However, hosting meetings virtually comes with its own set of challenges.

While we would love to believe that all our online meetings are 100% productive, we all know that isn’t true. Quite a significant number of attendees are either checking their emails or working on some other task while you’re doing a monologue.

Learning how to conduct efficient weekly meetings is crucial for team collaboration. This is the time when you brainstorm, plan, strategize, and finalize ideas as a team.

Though, more often than not, virtual meetings are a waste of both time and energy.

However, people don’t realize that conducting remote meetings isn’t about replicating what worked in the office. It’s crucial to revamp how you communicate and collaborate as a team.

To boost productivity and engagement during your weekly meetings, we’re going to share 12 best practices that you can implement today.

However, let’s first understand weekly meetings and why they’re essential.

What are weekly meetings?

Weekly team meetings are scheduled get-togethers where members share their accomplishments, discuss what is yet to be completed, unblock any roadblocks they’re facing, and ask questions as needed.

Weekly meetings typically run anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes. They are primarily held to establish the status of the team’s current project.

These meeting help ensure that the project stays on track and gives members the chance to strategize challenges that are anticipated in the near future.

Why have weekly team meetings?

Weekly meetings are an excellent way for managers to understand, first hand, any challenges or frustrations their team members are facing. Additionally, it is also the perfect opportunity to remind employees of its goals and ensure their work is aligned with the organization’s mission.

It gives people the space to gain hierarchical and peer-to-peer feedback and build a culture of open communication and transparency.

In a remote team, it’s challenging for members to know about what other members or groups are working on. Weekly team meetings help employees stay on the same page.

12 best practices for successful weekly meetings

Have an agenda for your weekly meetings

Before your weekly meetings, create a comprehensive list of all things you want to cover. Without an agenda, your meeting will be absolute chaos. You don’t have to conduct your weekly meetings simply because you have one scheduled at the time.

Prepare for your remote meetings in advance

Waiting until the last hour of your meeting to create an agenda is not the way to go.

To host successful team meetings, collaborate with your team to build the agenda.

The best way to do this is to create a rough agenda and share the draft with your team for feedback. Ask them to include points they would like to discuss during the team meeting.

This has the added benefit of getting people thinking about the topics going to be discussed, thereby increasing the chances of participating and sharing ideas more freely.

While you may not be able to discuss all the topics after receiving feedback from your team, it’s crucial to prioritize agenda items that need to be discussed. You can push the things that can be discussed later to the next weekly meeting.

Create an effective weekly team meeting agenda

According to Fellow, a meeting management software platform, over 46% of remote meetings don’t have a clear goal or purpose.

Your weekly meetings need to have a dedicated purpose. However, it’s critical to note that you shouldn’t just dedicate the entire hour to getting project updates from your team members.

Successful weekly meetings solve issues, spot potential issues, discuss the next steps, and delegate tasks to team members.

The primary objective of these weekly meetings is to ensure the action items to be discussed are critical and that all the team members stay engaged during the meeting.

Members may start skipping the meetings if they feel like it doesn’t add value and they have other important tasks they would rather work on.

Consistency is key

If you have a consistent flow to your weekly meetings, team members will know exactly what they can expect during the meeting. It boosts workflow, performance, and productivity of remote employees.

Here is a list of things you can do to incorporate consistency into your weekly meetings.

  1. Have a weekday fixed for your weekly meetings. Conducting your meetings on the same day and time each week will help ensure people keep that particular timeframe from double-booking.
  2. Determine the day you’ll share the weekly meeting agenda with your team.
  3. Ask members to share feedback within a specific time to consider their input while drafting the final agenda.
  4. Share the final weekly meeting agenda at the same place, at the same time each week, so members can easily find the agenda and prepare accordingly.
  5. Using the same format or template for your agenda meeting draft will help members identify which section holds data that’s vital for them.

Outline agenda before the meeting

As soon as the meeting starts, take the first two minutes to outline the agenda of the meeting. Give a brief of what the meeting is about and set the objectives of the meeting.

Determine whether you need the meeting

Unlike physical meetings, remote meetings have a lot of pressure to be super productive.

If you feel like you don’t have much to discuss with your team and the points can be covered via email, skip the weekly meeting.

Think about creating a process that can help eliminate the kind of issues your team is facing.

Most remote team leads don’t think about whether an issue can be resolved with a particular team member or members instead of raising it in the entire team’s meeting.

Time management

While scheduling your weekly meetings, you need to get your priorities right first. For example, while it’s advisable to have a fixed day and time for your weekly meetings, it may not always be possible.

Maybe you need to collaborate with another team and work on a cross-functional project; you need to take their schedules into account. Or maybe your team is distributed worldwide; this could mean that you may have to hold different meetings for members in different time zones.

Furthermore, have a strict duration set for the meetings and don’t allow the meeting to exceed the time frame. Ensure that you create an agenda that can fit within your time constraints.

Short meetings have proven to boost concentration levels and create an atmosphere of positive pressure which helps people focus on important topics.

Notifying your team about the time frame constraints will help them schedule their day accordingly and make sure they work towards wrapping things up in time, too.

Encourage team members to switch on their cameras during meetings

As people join the weekly meeting, gently remind them to turn their cameras on. While some may not be able to do it owing to unavoidable circumstances, being able to see the team makes weekly meetings much more personal.

Rotate the host during your weekly team meetings

If a single person juggles all the roles during your weekly meetings – debriefing, note-taking, and managing the time efficiently – they’re susceptible to feeling taxed and underperforming.

Furthermore, if this person does not manage to attend the meeting for unforeseen circumstances, precious minutes trickle by at the start of the meeting since the team is lost without the anchor.

Such stagnant meeting roles can stop teams from performing efficiently.

Rotating meeting roles can help the team move past this unproductive dynamic and build a steady flow within the team since they’re not over-dependent on one person to manage the weekly meetings.

It also helps members learn and hone new skills, feel more accountable for their performance, and build a deeper connection with their coworkers.

Here are a few role ideas:

  1. Facilitator: They set the pace of the meeting and guide the members towards achieving the meeting’s objective. They usually ask open questions to prompt discussions, lead the decision-making process, and capture action points.
  2. Notetaker: As the name suggests, they note down all key ideas, decisions, and outcomes discussed. These notes are usually shared with the members in the follow-up emails.
  3. Timekeeper: They ensure that all items in the agenda receive enough time and attention. They’re the ones who notify members if time is running out or if they’re focusing too much on a single topic and need to move past it.

For recurring weekly meetings, you can assign roles individually to different members each time. On the other hand, you can establish a lottery system and keep things a surprise where nobody knows what role they may be assigned during the next meeting.

This is an excellent way of boosting the engagement rate of your weekly team meetings and keeping your team on their toes.

Have specific intervals for questions

If you don’t have a system in place for allowing attendees to ask questions, your weekly meetings will be a chaotic experience.

The easiest way to do this is to open the floor for questions at specific intervals or simply during the end of the meetings.

You can go one step ahead and collect questions a few days before the meeting. If your team members have specific questions after they get the weekly team meeting agenda, they can add them to a Google Docs file.

Send follow-ups after meeting

Virtual meetings come with their own challenges and communication issues due to technical glitches, which is one of the most significant challenges. Technical difficulties like buffering can cause members to miss out on information.

Participants can miss important information that may be casually mentioned, which can result in project delays or even more severe consequences.

Even without technical glitches, it’s very common for people to come out of a meeting with different interpretations of the discussion.

Sharing a follow-up email documenting the tasks delegated, responsibilities given, deadlines finalized, and the meeting notes created by the notetaker. This ensures people know all the essential details discussed and be on the same page.

For important tasks, you use project management software tools like Allo and create a canvas to keep following up with tasks until they’re completed.

Clarify Takeaways at the end of the call

Even if you share a follow-up email after each meeting, reiterating the key takeaways before you end your weekly meetings is generally a good practice.

Here are a few aspects you can use to create perfect takeaways for your weekly team meetings:

  1. Highlight important decisions and ideas
  2. Ask the members to voice their questions
  3. List actions items
  4. Set deadlines for delegated tasks

Set some basic meeting etiquettes for online meetings

Developing a set of fundamental rules and structures for your weekly meetings will help you ensure that they are organized and productive.

Will you directly start the meeting or list the meeting agenda for your members? When can the attendees ask their questions? And how do they do it? In the chat to make sure they don’t interrupt the speaker or wait until the end of the session?

Consider all such aspects and give your participants detailed instructions, so there’s no room for ambiguity.

Only invite necessary people

Honesty answer this question: Do all the team members need to attend every single weekly meeting for the entire time?

If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can use the Two Pizza principle that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos follows. No virtual meeting should include more participants than can be fed by a couple of large pizzas.

Weekly meetings are not just about sharing information; it’s about making critical decisions.

The Two Pizza rule empowers the team to make quick decisions and gives them the ability to test their ideas without the hindrance of too many opinions.

However, if you feel like not including the entire team during group meetings isn’t right, you can adapt this point to your advantage.

Let members who have more minor roles share their reports during the first half. After they’re done, give them the choice to either stay back for the remainder of the weekly meeting or leave so they can return to their work.

Ask Participants to Contribute

Reminding team members to contribute to the meeting is essential. The best way is to get feedback about the meeting’s agenda from members regardless of their position.

Here are a few other ideas you can use to get team members to participate during virtual weekly meetings:

  1. Conduct polls. Incorporating polls and surveys during your meetings will boost attendee engagement. If the topic in question is sensitive, you can conduct anonymous polls.
  2. Encourage collaboration. You can use collaborative tools like virtual whiteboards during brainstorming sessions.

Summary

If you don’t have a strategy in place for your weekly meetings, they will risk becoming pointless, impersonal, and may even drag on for hours on end.

You can pair the strategies we’ve shared in this blog with the right technological tools to host successful weekly meetings.

The right remote work software tools can help you turn your entire process seamless. On the other hand, using the wrong tools can make your team’s collaboration a massive problem, even if you have a great strategy in place.

A team collaboration tool like Allo to document, collaborate, and communicate efficiently with the entire team. It’s a visual tool designed to tackle the drawbacks of pre-existing platforms like Confluence, Trello, and Asana. Allo also provides a weekly team meeting template for you to kickstart your agenda planning!

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

- Benjamin Franklin -

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