You've started a new job and are quite excited. Your boss asks you to attend a team meeting. You start to get a little nervous. What's going to happen? Will I have to speak? What should I say?
In this article, we look at what you can expect from your average team meeting.
A matter of culture
The general format of a meeting often depends on the culture of the country or particular workplace we're working in. It is also affected by how many people are involved, their status in the company, and the kind of meeting it is. The more formal the meeting, the more structured it's likely to be.
Let's focus on a standard team meeting you're likely to be involved in at any international company.
What's a team meeting?
Team meetings often happen quite regularly, perhaps once a week, where teams can set goals, check progress and share company or industry news. It can also give a chance for teams to share their problems or worries and even work on solving them together.
As they happen quite often and team members usually have a pretty close relationship, these meetings are often a little less formal.
The team leader usually acts as chairperson for this kind of meeting. Depending on the chairperson, they may follow an agenda to make sure they discuss all the important issues. The chairperson may ask a team member to act as minute taker - this allows for decisions and action points to be recorded and can be sent out to all members after the meeting.
Let's take a look at a common format of a team meeting.
Even structured team meetings can still be relatively informal. They'll often start with casual chat (or 'chit-chat') as team members come into the room and catch up with each other. The chairperson may get involved too, helping to set a relaxed tone. This free chat period may stop once everyone has arrived or be allowed to continue for a while before the meeting actually starts. Cultural norms will decide what level of punctuality is expected from team members and the chairperson will decide whether to begin on time or wait for latecomers.
2. Meeting starts
The chairperson starts the meeting by getting everyone's attention.
Depending on their individual style, the chairperson may begin with an introduction by sharing an anecdote, asking a few questions or showing an image or video. By doing this, they can engage the team members and lead them straight into the first item on the agenda. Other chairpeople may get straight down to business and open by reading through the agenda to prepare the team for what's about to be discussed. This probably isn't necessary if the agenda has already been emailed to the team in advance or if every meeting follows the same format.
3. Items on the agenda
The chairperson will lead the team through the items on the agenda. These may include straightforward news items or success stories from the week. They may also include activities that require input from the team: e.g. brainstorming activities, problem solving, case studies, sharing best practices.
Either way, expect to hear some of the following phrases in your next meeting.
Spice up your next meeting!
1. Cross off each phrase you hear in a meeting.
2. Cross off 3 in a line in any direction to win!
Ok, everyone, ...
Shall we start?
Going on to a new item
Moving on, ...
And the next item is ...
Could I just say something?
Sorry for butting in, but ... ?
Sorry to interrupt, but ... ?
Would you mind doing that for me?
Let me get back to you on that.
4. Any other business?
The final item on the agenda is often called 'Any other business' or 'AOBs' for short.
This is a chance for any team member to bring up a topic that hasn't already been spoken about. This could include absolutely anything, from work matters to personal items such as birthdays or thank yous. If there has been something you've been thinking about all meeting, don't be afraid to speak up here and bring it to the team's attention.
5. Next steps
One of the functions of a meeting is to set tasks for team members (including the chairperson) to complete before a specific date. When tasks are set, it's important that the details are recorded so that progress can be checked at a later date. These tasks are often called 'action points', 'action items' or even 'next steps'. The details usually include the task itself, the team member/s responsible for completing it and the date which it needs to be done by. If there's someone acting as minute taker, then they are in a good position to record these details.
6. Follow up
At this point, the chairperson will usually end the meeting. Team members may hang around for a while catching up with colleagues or speak to the team leader if there's something they want to ask directly. It's also the perfect time to speak to other team members, especially if you are working on anything together.