Need Effective Meeting Strategies? Apply Workshop Principles

If you’re in search of effective meeting strategies, we’ve got the key. Applying workshop principles to meetings makes them more productive, engaging, and overall successful.

“Another meeting that should have been an email,” you think as you’re leaving another not-so-focused session with your colleagues feeling none the wiser.

According to a survey of 150+ senior managers in a range of industries, here are some of the factors that give meetings a bad rep:

  • 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work
  • 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient
  • 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking
  • 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together

On the other hand, as appealing as it may appear, email is not always an adequate substitute for meetings. So is all lost, or is there a way to make meetings effective? We’ve got good news.

The meeting that should have been a workshop

Our experience has shown that the most efficient way to kick off projects is with discovery workshops.

A discovery workshop is a structured process for achieving an outcome by using tailored exercises.

How to translate workshop principles to create effective meeting strategies

Workshops are meetings in the sense that you get people together, either in a room with coffee and donuts or on Zoom, but that’s where the similarity ends. 

Many clients are positively surprised by the outputs of discovery workshops, commenting on how efficient the workshop was, how they learned plenty, and how they generally developed an awareness of things they hadn’t previously considered.

Here’s how to prevent participants from scrolling through LinkedIn in packed meeting rooms and create effective meeting strategies by applying the principles of workshops.  

1. Have an agenda

It’s important to prepare an agenda and essential to respect it. Ideally, you would assign a timebox to every item on your agenda to make sure all important things get the attention they deserve.

For starters, predict a 5-minute timeslot right at the beginning so everyone can catch up, and you don’t have to backtrack later to fill somebody in. The idea is to create a common starting ground and eliminate assumptions with facts.

Also, if you’re doing a presentation, leave time for feedback. If it’s a discussion, limit the duration for each discussion point.

2. Have a facilitator

Every workshop has a facilitator. That’s the person who creates the agenda, moderates sessions, and ensures discussions are on point. They are also responsible for asking critical questions and making sure all the participants are engaged. 

Why not appoint a facilitator for a meeting? It should be someone who is aware of the participants’ strong sides and areas of expertise. The facilitator should also maintain a healthy balance of engagement among the participants, encouraging those who aren’t contributing enough and tactfully pulling the brake on those who tend to hog the discussion.

3. Have a goal

A workshop always has a goal or desired outcome, and activities are curated to direct the participants toward reaching that goal. 

Think about the type of meeting you’re organizing:

  • Do you need to make a decision?
  • Is it a creative type of meeting or a brainstorming session?
  • Do you want to inform others about something?
  • Are you trying to learn something from others?

Establish the goal of your meeting beforehand. That way, you’ll know what is the best path to reach it.

4. Set the mind(set)

When people come to meetings, sometimes they believe that clicking “accept” on the invitation is preparation enough. These people will show up in the allotted time slot but stay muted with the camera off so they can continue scrolling through LinkedIn. And can you blame them? Too many meetings end without a tangible output or defined next steps. 

In comparison, when people come to workshops, they come prepared. They know there’s work to be done and that they are expected to be productive; otherwise, they’re wasting time. The difference is in the mindset, and having the right mindset makes all the difference.

Before for the meeting, take some time to think about the topics on the agenda and ways you can contribute to the discussion.

Workshop-ify to make your meetings effective

So there you have it: an agenda, a facilitator, a goal, and the right mindset could turn your meetings around. Try applying these workshop principles to make meetings effective, engaging, and overall successful.

And don’t forget to turn action points from your meeting into tasks in your agency management tool! We use Productive, because it makes us, you know, more productive.

And if you’re looking to build a digital product, take a shortcut and let Infinum facilitate a discovery workshop for your team.