Team meetings play a traditional and sometimes obligatory role in office culture, but that doesn’t mean they’re appreciated.

On the contrary, a recent Harris poll revealed that 46 percent of employees would prefer to do anything else other than sit in a status meeting. Seventeen percent said they would rather watch paint dry. Yikes.

Transforming those counter-productive meetings into meaningful ones is no mean feat, but in this post, I’ll share seven simple tips ways to make team meetings count.

1. Keep it Casual

Instead of being an extension of office life, attending a team meeting should feel like you’re taking a breather from your work.

To make that feeling a reality for your workforce, try setting a more casual tone in your team meetings by starting with an interactive game, a quick story, or even a joke. However, be wary of being overly relaxed, lest your important team meetings become nothing more than social gatherings.

2. Ditch The Chairs

To further set your team meetings apart from the daily grind, empty out the chairs from your meeting room and have stand-up meetings instead.

Not only does standing up encourage engagement, it also reduces meeting times by up to 34%, so your team can spend less time in meetings and more time producing results.

3. Refresh the Agenda

If your agenda rarely changes, you can’t expect anything other than stale meetings.

To keep your employees engaged, refresh your agendas with relevant issues, industry news, and new strategies that can help the company on micro and macro levels.

But whatever you do, don’t invent talking points in order to “fill up” your agenda. If nothing needs to be discussed, then so be it.

4. Rotate The Leader

Each meeting should be led by one person for the sake of efficiency. Rotating that leader will give your team meetings the variety they desperately need.

You’ll want to write up a short guideline for different leaders to follow, but ultimately, you should let your employees volunteer and enjoy the experience of leading a meeting.

However, if the meeting is being held in order to make an urgent decision, be sure that the leader is also a high-ranking decision maker.

4. Celebrate Successes

If your company wins a new contract or an employee reaches a personal milestone — celebrate it.

Team meetings help make up the culture and personality of your brand, and if you aren’t marking the big occasions with some celebratory cake, you’re sowing the seeds for a disjointed workforce.

This also applies to project post-mortem meetings, where it’s best to end on a congratulatory note.

5. Get Feedback

Surveying your employees is perhaps the most efficient way to optimize your team meetings.

  • Ask them about what they want to discuss
  • How they want to discuss it
  • What suggestions they would make in order to make team meetings more enjoyable and useful

6. End With a Summary

Even when they’re kept short and sweet, your employees will typically forget the key points of a meeting by the time they return to their work stations.

To ensure that your employees are going back to work with the meeting’s most valuable advice in mind, spend thirty seconds at the end of each meeting summarizing the key takeaways.

7. Make Meetings Rare

Although team meetings can be made fun, productive, and inspiring; nobody can dispute that a team meeting is not real work.

I suggest you take a leaf out of 37Signals’ book and keep team meetings to a minimum. They prefer to make use of email and IM to communicate. As they say, “every minute spent outside of the meeting room is a minute you can get real work done instead.”

Make Team Meetings Count for Your Team

The disdain for team meetings is almost universal among employees.

But if your company can make team meetings enjoyable and meaningful, you’ll be set apart from your competitors. This can only be a good thing when your workforce inevitably share stories about your company on platforms like GlassDoor.

How does your company approach team meetings? Let me know in the comments section below!