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Meeting Tips

How to Run a Productive Collaborative Meeting (13 Tips)

Published
March 26, 2024
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5
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Last updated
March 26, 2024
Anika Jahin
How to Run a Productive Collaborative Meeting (13 Tips)
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Managing meetings can be a constant juggle for managers. You need to keep everyone informed, discuss projects, and make decisions.

But let's be honest, traditional meetings can often feel like a time drain. People are passive listeners; ideas get lost in the shuffle, and you leave wondering if everyone is on the same wavelength.

There's a better way.

Collaborative gatherings can transform these unproductive meetings into powerful tools for driving innovation and achieving tangible results.

Imagine a meeting where everyone feels engaged and their voices are heard. A space where brainstorming sparks fresh ideas and collaborative decision-making leads to successful project outcomes.

This blog will equip you with the knowledge and tools to facilitate effective collaborative meetings. We'll break down the key elements that make them successful and guide you through a step by step process to ensure your meetings are productive and engaging for your entire team.

What Are Collaborative Meetings?

Imagine a meeting space that feels more like a brainstorming session fueled by shared goals and active participation. This is the essence of a collaborative meeting.

It's a shift from the traditional format where a single person leads the discussion, and information flows in one direction.

The Core of Collaboration

Collaborative meetings revolve around a few fundamental principles:

  • Shared Objective: Everyone involved clearly understands the common goal the meeting aims to achieve.
  • Active Engagement: Collaborative meetings encourage active participation from all attendees in the same room through brainstorming, discussions, and activities.
  • Transparency and Information Sharing: Open communication is key. Meeting participants receive relevant materials beforehand, and discussions ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Shared Decision-Making: Decisions are no longer made in isolation. Collaborative discussions involve considering different perspectives to reach collective decisions.

The Key Differentiator

So, how do you know if a meeting is truly collaborative? Here's the key difference: in a traditional meeting, information flows in one direction, often from a leader to passive listeners.

Successful collaborative meetings like brainstorming sessions or project kick-offs, on the other hand, encourage a two-way exchange of ideas and active participation from all attendees.

Why Are Collaborative Meetings Important?

Traditional meetings can often be filled with presentations, limited discussion, and decisions made by a select few. But collaborative meetings offer a powerful alternative, boosting team morale, productivity, and innovation in several ways.

The beauty of these meetings lies in their ability to bring together diverse perspectives, regardless of location, to achieve a common goal. Advancements in technology have made remote collaboration also increasingly popular and effective.

Let's expand on the benefits of a collaborative meeting:

Enhanced Creativity and Problem-Solving

By bringing together diverse perspectives, collaborative meetings can spark creative problem-solving. Team members can generate new ideas and approach challenges from different angles.

This productive meeting leads to more effective solutions than individual efforts alone.

Stronger Team Cohesion

Collaborative meetings provide a platform for team members to connect and build relationships.

Working towards a shared goal promotes a sense of shared purpose and collaboration, strengthening team spirit and overall effectiveness.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

Clear communication and shared decision-making in collaborative meetings ensure everyone has the same information.

This leads to clear action items, focused workflows, and reduced time wasted on miscommunication and rework.

Improved Decision-Making

By considering a broader range of viewpoints, a collaborative meeting can lead to more informed and well-rounded decisions.

Everyone feels heard and invested in the outcome, increasing buy-in and ownership of the final decision.

Wider Talent Pool

Productive meetings can also be held remotely. Remote meetings allow you to tap into a broader range of expertise, regardless of location. You can include remote workers or consultants from different time zones, enriching the diversity of different skills and thinking at the table.

Improved Accessibility

Sometimes we just need short collaborative meetings to have a quick brainstorming session.

Remote meetings serve that cause perfectly by eliminating travel time and costs, making them more accessible for everyone, including those with disabilities or scheduling conflicts. This fosters a more inclusive environment.

Of course, successful remote collaboration meetings require careful planning and consideration. If you want to know more about how to make virtual team communication effective, check out this blog: 

13 Tips for a Successful Collaborative Meeting

To hold collaborative meetings successfully requires planning and facilitation.

Here's a breakdown of key steps before, during, and after the meeting to ensure a productive and engaging session for everyone involved:

Before the Meeting

(1) Define a Clear Objective and Craft an Engaging Meeting Agenda:

  • Start with the "Why": Clearly articulate the purpose of the meeting and the intended outcome. What problem are you trying to solve, or what goal are you aiming to achieve?
  • Craft a Focused Agenda: Develop a well-structured meeting agenda that outlines the topics for discussion, allocates time for each segment, and includes a dedicated section for brainstorming and decision-making.
  • Share the Agenda in Advance: Distribute the agenda to all attendees beforehand, preparing them to contribute meaningfully.

(2) Invite the Right People:

  • Focus on Expertise and Impact: Carefully consider the skills, knowledge, and perspectives most relevant to the meeting's objective.
  • Balance Team Size: Aim for a group size between 4-7 people. This allows for diverse perspectives while maintaining focused discussions.
  • Distinguish Must-Have vs. Optional Attendees: Identify individuals crucial to achieving the meeting's goals ("Must-Haves") and those who could offer additional insights ("Optional").

(3) Embrace Asynchronous Brainstorming:

  • Spark Pre-Meeting Innovation: Include any necessary pre-reading materials when sending the meeting invitation. This allows attendees to brainstorm asynchronously, saving valuable meeting time.
  • Deeper Thinking and Diverse Ideas: Asynchronous brainstorming allows team members to process information independently and contribute creative, out-of-the-box solutions.
  • Leverage Brainstorming Notes: Use the team's pre-meeting ideas as a springboard for in-meeting discussions.

(4) Assign Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Clarity for Effective Collaboration: Clearly define roles before the meeting. This could include a facilitator, notetaker, timekeeper, and individuals responsible for presenting information or leading specific discussions.
  • Enhanced Ownership and Accountability: Knowing their roles empowers attendees to contribute effectively and ensures everyone is on the same page.

During the Meeting

(5) Establish Ground Rules for Respectful Communication:

  • Set the Tone for Collaboration: Define clear ground rules for communication, such as active listening, avoiding interruptions, and staying focused on the topic.
  • Promote a "No Blame" Culture: Encourage open communication by fostering an environment where mistakes and misunderstandings are seen as learning opportunities. This strengthens trust and collaboration.

(6) Encourage Active Participation from Everyone:

  • Set Expectations for Contribution: At the beginning of the meeting, emphasize the value of everyone's input and encourage active participation.
  • Icebreakers for Comfort and Connection: Use icebreakers to help participants feel relaxed and comfortable, fostering rapport and encouraging participation.
  • Embrace Diverse Perspectives: Recognize and appreciate the unique backgrounds and experiences each team member brings to the table. Encourage them to share ideas and viewpoints openly.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Utilize open-ended questions that stimulate discussion and generate a wider range of ideas. Avoid closed-ended questions with yes-or-no answers.
  • Active Listening Creates Understanding: Practice active listening by paying close attention to speakers, paraphrasing their points, and asking clarifying questions. This builds trust and ensures everyone feels heard.

(7) Utilize Visual Aids for Collaboration:

  • Visualize Ideas for Clarity and Focus: Incorporate visual aids like whiteboards, sticky notes, or flip charts to capture ideas and concepts during the meeting.
  • Collaborative Tracking and Note-Taking: Visual aids help everyone visualize the discussion flow, facilitating building on ideas and generating new ones.

(8) Take Breaks to Maintain Focus and Energy:

  • Schedule Refreshment Intervals: Collaborative meetings can be intense. Schedule regular breaks to allow participants to recharge, refocus, and return to the discussion with renewed energy.

(9) Assign Action Items with Clear Ownership:

  • Ensure Accountability and Continued Progress: Assign specific tasks to individuals after identifying clear deliverables and deadlines. This creates accountability and a sense of ownership, increasing the likelihood of task completion.
  • Specificity for Clarity: Clearly define the scope of each task and the expected deliverables.
  • Reasonable Deadlines for Progress: Set achievable deadlines to keep everyone on track and ensure the project progresses smoothly.
  • Ownership Breeds Commitment: Assigning ownership fosters accountability and motivates team members to complete tasks on time.

After the Meeting

(10) Recap the Meeting:

  • Distribute a Clear and Concise Summary: Draft and send an email recap within 24 hours of the meeting. This email should clearly outline the key points, decisions, action items assigned with ownership and deadlines, and any next steps. Use clear headings and bullet points for easy readability.

Don't have time to take notes? Don't feel like drafting an email about it? Wudpecker can automate both of those for you. Try it for free!

(11) Evaluate the Meeting:

  • Gather Feedback: Don't just assume the meeting was a success. Solicit feedback from attendees through brief surveys or quick polls. Ask questions about the meeting's clarity, level of participation, and overall effectiveness in achieving the intended goals.
  • Reflect on Your Facilitation: Take some time to self-evaluate your facilitation skills in your own pace. Consider what aspects went well and identify areas for improvement. Did you encourage participation from everyone? Did you stay on track with the agenda? Honest reflection helps you continuously refine your approach.

(12) Provide Actionable Feedback:

  • Offer Feedback to Team Members: Within a reasonable timeframe after the meeting, provide feedback on team members' participation. Focus on specific behaviors and contributions rather than generalities. Offer positive reinforcement for valuable contributions and constructive criticism for areas where they can improve. The goal is to help them develop their collaboration skills.

(13) Maintain Open Communication Channels:

  • Utilize Project Management Tools: Ensure clear and consistent communication beyond the meeting. Utilize project management platforms or team messaging tools to facilitate discussions, track progress on action items, and address any questions or roadblocks.
  • Schedule Follow-up Meetings (if necessary): Schedule follow-up meetings as needed depending on the project's complexity or decisions made. 

Conclusion

The power of collaboration is undeniable. By transforming your meetings from passive lectures into dynamic idea exchanges, you can unlock the collective intelligence of your team and achieve remarkable results.

This blog has equipped you with the knowledge and tools to host effective collaborative meetings,  both in-person and remotely.

Remember, collaboration is a journey, not a destination. By continuously refining your approach, embracing feedback, and fostering a culture of open communication and mutual respect, you can transform your meetings into powerful engines for innovation,  productivity, and team success.

So, the next time you schedule a meeting, think beyond the traditional format.

FAQs

What Is an Example of a Collaborative Meeting?

Here is an example of a collaborative meeting showcasing one scenario where collaboration is key:

Cross-Functional Problem-Solving: A marketing team meets with the sales team to address a decline in sales for a specific product. By combining their knowledge of customer needs and marketing strategies, they can develop solutions collaboratively.

What Makes a Good Collaborative Meeting?

Here are some key ingredients that make a good collaborative meeting:

  • Clear Objective and Purpose:  Everyone should understand why they're there and the desired outcome. A well-defined objective keeps the meeting focused and drives productive discussions.
  • Diverse and Engaged Participants:  Invite people with the necessary skills and perspectives to contribute to the discussion. Foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.
  • Structured Agenda with Flexibility: A clear agenda with designated times for brainstorming, discussion, and decision-making keeps the meeting organized. However, leave room for adjustments based on the flow of the conversation.
  • Effective Communication:   Encourage active listening, respectful communication, and clear expression of ideas. Utilize techniques like icebreakers to break the tension and promote participation.
  • Visual Aids and Collaborative Tools:  Leverage whiteboards, online mind maps, or other visual tools to capture ideas visually. This enhances clarity, ensures everyone is on the same page, and facilitates building upon ideas collaboratively.
  • Clear Action Items and Follow-up:   Assign specific action items to individuals with deadlines to ensure accountability and progress. After the meeting, distribute a summary outlining key points, decisions, and action items.
  • Continuous Improvement:  Gather feedback from attendees and reflect on your facilitation. Always look for ways to refine your approach for increased effectiveness in future collaborative meetings.

What Is the Objective of Collaboration Meeting?

A collaboration meeting aims to combine participants' diverse skills, perspectives, and efforts to generate innovative ideas, solve problems, make informed decisions, enhance communication, and develop actionable plans, all while building team cohesion and ensuring everyone is aligned toward a common goal.

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