This is great for brainstorming a new app feature or solving an issue, for example. However, it requires a skilled facilitator to prevent one person from hogging the limelight.
In contrast, a fishbowl meeting is more structured. Only four or five people can actively talk, with the rest of the participants as observers.
This is great for discussing sensitive issues, as it creates less tension. It’s also easier to manage.
Lastly, don’t forget to set the right meeting time. Make sure to pick a time when everyone is free, ideally not in the middle of the workday.
Assigning dedicated meeting roles
One of the best approaches for improving your meetings’ efficiency and speed is assigning roles and responsibilities to select participants.
Lisa Richards, CEO of Candida Diet, explains the benefits of doing this:
One of the most important things you can do to create a successful team meeting agenda is to make sure that you have a clear understanding of what each team member’s responsibilities are during this meeting and to communicate the same to each member. When people know what is expected of them during meetings, they are more likely to come prepared and ready to contribute and collaborate effectively.
Any virtual meeting should have four basic roles.
The first is the meeting leader, who is often also the team lead.
Leaders are responsible for arranging the meeting, including tasks like preparing the agenda, setting the venue, and sending invitations to participants.
More importantly, they also have the privilege of assigning all other meeting roles.
The next role is the facilitator.
Facilitators play a more active role during the meeting. They help ensure a proper flow by moderating the discussion and keeping people on track if they veer off-topic.
They’re also vital for resolving conflicts and dispersing tension.
As such, facilitators are often people outside the team so that they can stay neutral during the meeting.
The third role is that of the timekeeper.
Their task is simple but critical—ensuring that every item on the agenda is tackled within the allotted time.
If someone is already taking too long on a topic, timekeepers will discreetly inform the facilitator so as not to disrupt the flow.
The fourth role is the tech specialist.
Tech specialists are a must for virtual meetings because they ensure that all the virtual meeting tools work smoothly.
They also resolve issues ASAP, thus preventing the meeting from going overtime.
For example, if a participant needs to share their screen in a meeting but can’t or doesn’t know how, the tech specialist is there to save the day.
Some meetings also have a fifth role, the recorder or notetaker.
Their task is to write down everything discussed during the meeting so that it can be turned into the minutes and sent to participants afterward.
However, most tools allow you to record virtual meetings, so this role is often unnecessary.
Allowing the developer team to prepare
The most successful meetings happen when all participants—not just the facilitator or leader—come fully prepared.
The best way to ensure this is to send the meeting agenda to the development team in advance. Ideally, you should do this three days in advance.
Making the agenda available to the participants early has several benefits.
One is that it helps people clear their schedules, so the meeting has minimal impact on their work.
Second, it allows them to prepare any suggestions or anything else they might want to bring up.
For example, if the agenda is an update on the feature they’re working on, the developers involved will have time to assemble a work-in-progress app for testing.
Lastly, knowing the agenda also allows people to suggest their own talking points.
For instance, if the development team has a pressing concern they would like to address, they can tell you in advance. That way, you can prepare for it without disrupting the meeting itself.
The bottom line is that the best teams rely on teamwork to operate efficiently, including preparing for meetings.
One last caveat…
These five best practices work best when you already have the right team in place.
Because no matter how well you plan your agenda and hold your meetings, it will fall short if the team can’t execute the tasks you set out for them.
It’s why we encourage clients and business owners to choose their development agency carefully.
At DECODE, we’ll assemble a team that will meet all of your development needs efficiently.
A seasoned software engineering executive, Marin’s role combines his in-depth understanding of software engineering processes (particularly mobile) with product and business strategies. Humbly boasting 20+ years of international experience at the forefront of telecoms, Marin knows how to create and deliver state of the art software products to businesses of all sizes. Plus, his skills as a lifelong basketball player mean he can lead a team to victory.
When he’s not hopping from meeting to meeting, you’ll find Marin listening to indie rock, or scouring the latest IT news.