A really fundamental task for assistants is organising your department team meetings. If your organisation is anything like the businesses I used to work for I bet you organise A LOT of team meetings. I know that most of you are aware that some meetings are not the best use of time, but did you know something like $37 billion a year is lost to unnecessary team meetings?! That’s crazy right? The statistics don’t end there with 73% of people admit to doing unrelated work in their meetings. If anything, these statistics show that some work needs to be done to make the meetings worthwhile and effective. As so many of you organise team meetings this is an area that you could add real value and a great place to start would be working on some ground rules for team meetings.

Simple ground rules for team meetings

A good place to start with ground rules are the simple things that really everybody should already be doing, cause they are polite! So for example, everyone…

  • Should show up on time
  • Give an apology if they cannot attend or send a substitute in their place
  • Turn their phone onto vibrate
  • Come prepared to the meeting have read all of the supporting paperwork
  • Listen to each other and not interrupt
  • Stay focussed on the point of the meeting
  • Action any tasks they are assigned

These simple ground rules for team meetings should be easy enough to implement and can be attached to every meeting invitation that is sent out by you or your Executive. Getting people to stick to the rules is a whole other blog post, but at least have the fundamentals in place is a good start. Let’s have a look at some rules you can implement that can also make your team meetings more productive. This is where you guys can really add value.

How can ground rules help attendees be more productive?

Here are 5 ground rules for team meetings that will really help with productivity

A good place to start is with the point of the meeting. Your first ground rule could be:

1. What is the meeting for? 

Here are a few options courtesy of the Undercover Recruiter:

  • Decision making
  • Information sharing
  • Brainstorming
  • Updates
  • Sales

Before a meeting is even created you could ask what is the purpose of the meeting and have a list of categories for people to select. This means that attendees will know roughly what the meeting will be about and plan accordingly.

2. Every meeting must have an agenda 

Another simple ground rule, but one that is often missed. Make sure every meeting has an agenda, it can be very simple for example:

  • Date, time, location
  • Attendees
  • Agenda / meeting’s purpose
  • Supporting papers
  • Type of meeting (conference call, face to face etc.)

The most important aspect of the agenda is the timing of each item. Ensure everyone knows what is being discussed and how long each discussion should take. Include an end time so that people know when to stop talking!

3. Each meeting should be no longer than 30 minutes 

Unless it is a board meeting your team meetings should be no longer than 30 minutes. Meetings should have a specific point, and that should take no longer than 30 minutes to discuss and allocate the required actions. If the meeting must be longer than half an hour, make sure you include regular breaks for the attendees. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that people need white space to help process their thoughts so regular breaks during long meetings will help with productivity.

4. No PowerPoint 

There is nothing worse than sitting through an unnecessary presentation. Death by PowerPoint is real peeps! During your team meetings do you need people to present on PowerPoint? Can they send out the slides, with a voice-over if necessary, that attendees listen to or read prior to the meeting? Sitting through an unnecessary presentation is such a waste of time and can be easily avoided.

5. Someone must be accountable for this meeting 

Another great ground rule borrowed from Apple. Each meeting should have a dedicated person that drives the meeting forward. They are there to ensure that the meeting has sort of ROI (return on investment). So this could be stopping irrelevant conversations, returning people to the point of the meeting, writing down any actions and following up when the meeting has finished. This doesn’t have to be a senior member of the team or the same person for each meeting,. In fact, it would be great if this role is shared amongst the team so that everyone takes responsibility for the meetings.

Putting these tips into practice

So lastly, how do you implement these ground rules for team meetings? Well, take these ideas to your Executive and ask if you think they will help your team meetings. If your Executive agrees, send out an inital email to your team saying you will be implementing a new set of rules for each team meeting. You can go a step further and say that you will reject a meeting set up for your Executive without these rules in place. This will set the cat amongst the pigeons but they will soon start using the rules if it means getting your boss to the meeting.

Over to you guys, let me know if you set up ground rules for your team and the outcomes!