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6 ways to make your team meeting not terrible

Aka "This could have been accomplished in an email."

A colleague asked me to share thoughts on running a successful team meeting. My response = this blog post.

As our workplace becomes more and more distributed, tools like Slack, Google Hangout, Voxer, Asana (and plenty of others ending in .ly) have made the physical journey into Michael Scott's conference room increasingly obsolete.

Still, the time comes where you have to gather your troops for an all hands meeting which, regardless of medium or level of virtualness, still can be incredibly ineffective if not run properly.

Ergo, here are 6 keys leaders should consider when running a team meeting:

1. PREPARE -Show your team that you respect their time, and that everything you're covering in the meeting has been carefully considered in advance. For an hour meeting, spend at least an hour preparing. Don't be this guy:

2. STRONG AGENDA - Lay it out at the beginning of the meeting. This prevents questions out of left field at random points which can derail the meeting. Folks will understand what's coming down the pipeline and slot their comments accordingly; and if not, you reserve the right to.

3. ENGAGEMENT - A day or two before the meeting, ping a couple folks asking them to either speak
on a topic or raise a question they might have on a given agenda item; it's likely others will have the same question. This gives them time to prepare and guarantees additional voices heard.

4.OPEN FORUM - Reserve 15 minutes on the agenda for an "open forum" where individuals can say, ask, complain...whatever is on their mind. Your job is to determine how much detail to go into and what to save for an offline conversation.

5. TONE - I LOVE to have fun. At various points throughout the day you can find me doing acappela renditions of Biggie's "Juicy", or giving my best Barack Obama impersonation (Goooood ah, good evening. This is ah, the president.) . In team meetings - you want to strike the tone as the leader. Smile, have fun, be casual...but don't self derail the meeting by trying to be a comedian.

6. PRAISE - Be very careful to avoid ANY self praise, and make a conscious effort to call out team members for jobs well done.

And for the love of god, use video...it's 2015, haven't we had enough conference call drama yet?

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