Morning meetings don’t have to be something that the whole team suffers through.
When done well, morning meetings can be a great way to energize your team, articulate priorities, connect with others, and create shared excitement for the week ahead.
Other reasons to have a morning meeting:
Sharpen focus. Ever feel like you’re just shuffling from one work day to the next? A morning meeting can add much-needed purpose and structure to your day. By knowing what your overall goals and priorities are, you’ll be able to do your work with greater intention and clarity.
Ensure productivity. It’s hard to sustain focus when you’re constantly anticipating the next meeting or decompressing from the last one. A meeting at the start of the day gets everyone on the same page. Employees can then use the rest of their day to focus on deep work–without worrying about interruptions
Motivate the team. Whether it’s sharing positive feedback or exchanging ideas or just making small talk about the weekend, morning meetings build team spirit and a sense of camaraderie.
Ideas to make morning meetings better
You don’t want your morning meeting to turn into the dreaded “this could’ve been an email” situation. Here are both practical and creative ideas to make your morning meetings something your team actually looks forward to.
1. Have a desired outcome
We’ve all sat through meetings that seemed more like an hour-long lecture or free-for-all than a productive discussion.
A desired outcome is a specific result you want to achieve. You are not merely meeting to brainstorm ideas or discuss a problem. You'll want to make sure that your actions at this meeting produce a very specific result.
Examples of a desired outcome:
- Agree on 1-2 solutions for X problem
- Designate the team members who will lead the product launch
- Define the specific problem that is blocking progress on a project
- Choose the marketing plan you will go forward with
2. Narrow down your guest list
Once you have defined the desired outcome, you can polish your guest list for the morning meeting. Do you need immediate team members only? Or do coworkers in satellite offices need to attend as well?
Remember: your meeting attendees are not just observers, they are active participants.
Your participants should play a very specific role. Do you want them to contribute ideas? Serve as a notetaker? Provide updates? If they are merely there to sit and observe, they probably don’t need to attend.
When everyone has a specific role to play, then not only are you honoring your meeting’s purpose, but you're respecting your participant’s time as well.
3. Figure out the right format for your morning meeting
Choosing the right format for your morning meeting ensures that you’ll stick with your agenda and have a fruitful discussion.
Different meeting formats include:
- Standing meeting. These meetings are short and sweet. You want to quickly touch base and share updates. So you probably don’t want it to go longer than 15 minutes, or risk everyone being sore by the end!
- Weekly status meeting. A status meeting gets everyone organized and provides more context than a quick standing meeting. You share what’s new, identify potential issues and challenges, and set deadlines. A weekly status meeting can help achieve coherence for a big team or project.
- Top 3 priorities meeting. If you’re working on a project with multiple stakeholders and moving targets, a morning meeting can help everyone agree on the top 3 priorities for the day or week. This will save team members time and energy in the long run, as they’ll know exactly what to do and focus on.
4. Start with an icebreaker
Morning meetings are a different beast from other meetings. Not only is it the first meeting of the day, but you have to consider the mindset that your attendees will be in.
People might arrive stressed from their morning commute or still exhausted from the night before. With this in mind, you don’t want to dive head first into an intellectually intensive topic.
Instead, ease into your morning meeting with a simple icebreaker. Something as simple as “what did you do this weekend” is enough to get the conversation started—and give people time to wake up!
An icebreaker is a fun, simple way to open people up and get them engaged.
5. Provide morning treats
Another way to make morning meetings more enticing is to provide a small treat.
Depending on your office’s budget, it might be nice to provide breakfast treats or coffee. You don’t have to do this for every single meeting, but a once-in-a-while treat is always appreciated. If team members volunteer to bring breakfast goods, let them! But don’t make it a mandatory thing. You want your employees to be excited for their morning meeting, and not feel pressured to take on an extra task.
6. Break out the colorful markers
If the focus of your morning meeting is to brainstorm or problem solve, then help attendees tap into their creative side with markers and colorful post-its or paper.
Have participants write their ideas on a sticky note and post it on a wall or flipchart.
People are more likely to get out of their shell (and their morning brain fog) when they get to roll up their sleeves and use their hands.
7. Ask questions to keep the meeting on track
Another great meeting tip from Mamie Kanfer Stewart is to use questions to keep your meeting on track.
We’ve all sat through morning meetings that have droned on and on (which isn’t ideal when you’re still tired.) Steer your meeting in the right direction by asking clarifying questions. For example, if someone goes off on a tangent, ask them: “I’d like to be mindful of our time. Is there anything else we haven’t covered yet that’s important?”
If the participant is unable to clarify, then you can say something to the effect of “I’d love to hear more about it, so let’s meet briefly after this discussion.” That way, your employee can still feel heard and you can keep the morning meeting on track.
Written by JiJi Lee.