Productive team meetings are the lifeblood of any business, especially ones with as much “chaos potential” as a digital marketing agency. In this post, we sit down with agency and marketing professionals and chat the best tips on running effective and productive team meetings.
Structure it for Productivity
Hannah from UK Linkology says “To make your meeting productive, there needs to be a rough structure, however loose. I give everyone an opportunity to speak, and they all have questions they can answer, if they’re not sure what to say. So, the meeting doesn’t become a free for all and we can actually get things done.”
Rick from 150birds comes in with another tip stating “we have an online platform that facilitates communication” closing with “it’s important because by streamlining communication, get get rid of waste and it allows us to operate faster.”
Russel from PaperboxSEO adds “Meetings are a necessary evil of the business world, and should be kept to an absolute minimum so that they don’t devolve into a disorganized mess
where everyone brings up topics simply because they feel they’re supposed to participate. Have an agenda, focus on the most important issues, and allow time for anyone who needs to broach a matter to do so, but strive to keep meetings as brief and infrequent as possible.
Prioritize & Set Agenda Items
Kirsty Allen from Digital Media Team in the UK says “Set an agenda. Far too many meetings are aimless, resulting in people straying off the topic and no clear decisions being made. This is especially true in the virtual world. Set an agenda, and stick to it.”
Going one step further, prioritizing those agenda items can be a nice touch to keep productivity high.
“Choosing priorities is the most essential element in our meetings. We had many meetings and most of them were time-consuming. I’ve learned that we can’t cover everything. It’s possible to discuss most tasks without scheduling any meetings. So, we only choose what is important for us that it’s hard to handle without discussion.
In most cases, it concerns new ideas and directions that we provide in our agency. When old techniques don’t provide meaningful results then we touch them to develop and innovate. It helps to generate new methods of getting traffic and sales.” says Anatolii of seotools.tv.
Furthering the point, Tim, the co-founder and CEO of Lasting Trend uses a methodology called Scrum to help his team manage priorities.
Tim says “We actively use Scrum methodology and have team meetings every 2 weeks. We choose that period as it allows employees to do all planned high-priority tasks. Every meeting is productive because all employees know what tasks they finished and what they need to do next.”
James Pollard from The Advisor Coach LLC gives a great example of how he communicates to his team before the actual meeting, stating “if I’m having a meeting on Wednesday, I will send the agenda to my team members on Monday so they have time to review it and write down any questions they may have. At the meeting, I can answer their questions quickly and efficiently. This eliminates the hassle of them asking follow-up questions long after the meeting has ended. Plus, a written meeting agenda ensures we don’t miss anything.”
Jasmine Standifer from Bloom Digital Company comes in to reaffirm what’s seeming like a recurring theme by saying “Having a set agenda is important to having a productive team meeting. An agenda will make sure that the meeting stays on topic and does not take extra, unnecessary time.”
Abby Herman from Snap Agency says “People are or feel productive by following different processes, but in our agency we feel that in order to also maintain our productivity when managing an office (even though everyone is remote) is preparedness. If we’re not prepared, it will be hard to delegate and that will make our staff’s job harder. For that reason, when we have a scheduled meeting, we prepare our meeting agenda ahead of time and send it to everyone who’s supposed to be in attendance. This helps with any team members who would like to chime in and give their opinions or ideas on whatever the meeting items are, without having to come back later, or have extra questions at the end of the meeting. We also encourage anyone to submit questions before the meeting so we have any necessary info right there and then. Regardless if we are announcing a new tool for social media scheduling that we will use for our clients, or we are adding a new web host, new marketing services, it’s always a good idea to let everyone know ahead of time. Preparedness helps meetings run on time, avoid unnecessary long Q&A’s at the end making the meeting extra long, and that even leaves a little extra time for last minute questions or concerns. No one really likes to be stuck in long meetings these days, so any follow ups after that can be done via email.”
Dave from Pathfinder Alliance says “Time-capping your meetings can significantly boost your productivity and help you extract a lot more value in the limited time you have. For example, you can set the meeting duration to 30 minutes and assign 10 minutes to each of the agenda points. This way, the participants will stay focused and the meeting will not go off track.”
Transparency from Leaders
Janis Managing Partner from SEOlutions “If you want to encourage open discussions and constructive feedback loops it is imperative to be completely transparent with your team when it comes to the operational tasks of your agency.
We want to give our team members the chance to be heard and to openly contribute. One way to do this is to hold frequent kick-off meetings and open brainstorming sessions for new projects.
Keep your team in the loop and encourage them to give you (as the agency owner) constructive feedback along the way. Meet them at eye-level and let them work WITH you, not for you. This is, from personal experience, on of the most important ways to have constructive team meetings every time.”
Send out the Agenda in Advance
Caroline from Reactionpower told us “Preparing and sharing the agenda before the meeting. This gives team members an opportunity to prepare appropriately for the meeting. If they know the topics to be discussed, they can research the topics in advance and prepare relevant questions and information to contribute constructively to the meeting. Team members will be more likely to attend the meeting if they know the topics to be discussed are important and relevant.”
With 5 years as a freelancer before starting his software company Loganix, a 30-person strong company helping agencies and businesses to simplify their internal processes with action focused and data-driven SEO and SEM solutions, Aaron Haynes, the CEO of the company tells us “Sending out the prep documents before the meeting makes a huge impact on the quality of the meeting. It might seem weird to force your team to read up on the documents before discussing them, but it makes a huge difference in the actual meeting. In short, you want your team to come prepared with knowledge before you discuss the actual topic.”
He continued with “This kind of approach leads to much more efficient/faster team meetings. Your team will be well prepared and ready to discuss ideas from the get-go. This will improve the overall quality/productivity of the meeting and its end results.”
Along the same lines, Paul from DVS says “My one tip for more productive team meetings is to *have participants come prepared.* No need to spend time covering a project’s background information or bringing people up to speed. Instead, make sure the meeting itself has an informative title, so participants know what will be discussed. Then, add a description to the invitation that includes expected outcomes of the meeting and a list of relevant documents/material to be reviewed before attending.”
Intentionally Stay on Task
Barbara at Word Revolution chimed in with “As an agency owner with a remote team, it is important to stay on task but meet regularly. I have found that quick weekly check-ins with my team have allowed for projects to stay on track while building community and trust.
In my agency, I have found that long meetings are often unnecessary unless they are creative or brainstorming meetings. Weekly check-ins that are no longer than 30 minutes long allow for the team to remain focused while in contact.
We follow a simple principle: personal best (something in your personal life that was good this past week), business best (a win this past week) and what’s next (something they are committing to achieving this week).This has helped with accountability but also factors in our human condition and our personal lives.”
Be Aware of Obstacles
With remote work being the common thing in 2021, Brack from Incrementors Web Solutions says “It’s important to notice some of the new unexpected obstacles remote employees face: physical and emotional segregation, distractions at home dragging them in multiple ways. Thus there are the potential new hurdles run into by the company putting under pressure on teams. Change. New Silos. Fear. Complexity. One of the many burdens of responsibility in leadership is to care for the team so they continue focused on their immediate duties. Remove as many difficulties as possible. This is a great track-up to checking in on projects with various partners on the marketing team. It will too help you give resources and your own time to protect the team.
Furthering the point on remote work, Jessica from Jessica Mason Marketing says “in an increasingly remote world, taking advantage of screen share capabilities on video calls has made all of my agency team meetings, and even freelance client meetings, increasingly more productive. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a screen share feels like it’s worth ten
thousand. This is because showing exactly how something is displaying visually speeds up team understanding in a way the even in-person meetings could not accomplish at times. Screen sharing allows us to quickly identify solutions, rather than focusing on getting a shared understanding of the problem.”
Only Include Relevant Team Members
Adam from Majux Marketing says “don’t cross departments in meetings unless you are discussing an HR issue or something like that. Meetings should be among only SEO
folks, only Google Shopping folks, only content writers, only web developers, and so forth. At the end of the meeting, people always have questions – if multiple departments are present, the questions won’t apply to everyone, and it will waste their time and lead to frustration.
Engage the Team
Alexandra Cote says Make sure you create an engaging activity that will get everyone to say
something during the meeting. It can be a question you ask for every meeting like ‘What are you struggling with?’ or ‘Is there anything new you learned recently?’. You can write these down too and keep them in a spreadsheet so people who missed the meeting can also check out. Alternatively, you can simply make it a habit for the meeting to go through every person in alphabetical order or similar.
On team engagement, Michelle, co-founder of Ballistic Media Group says “Virtual team meetings can be intense. At Ballistic Media Group we like to incorporate a bit of fun when possible. From virtual scavenger hunts to TikTok updates and video shares – adding humor to any meeting helps to keep the team focused and on point.”
Darrel Evans, Co-Founder of Yokel Local adds “Productive team meetings come from involvement that moves the business forward. Not showing up to listen and take notes. How do you get engagement? Have individuals on the team own key goals or metrics that matter to the organization. Report on those in the team meeting.
I’ve found that your team takes ownership of what they are in charge of. They want opportunities to be problem solvers. They become more vested when they can contribute in a meaningful way.
We have to ask them to own something that matters.
When they own a thing that matters, meetings are more productive when people have a purpose for being there.”
Digital Marketing Agency Team Agenda Template
Before we wrap up, here’s an example template of a team meeting agenda to help you and your agency stay on track an productive. This example was provided by Jocelyn Bermudez, Founder of JMB Digital Solutions.
1. Greeting (celebrate wins, or something positive – personally and professionally) 5 mins
2. KPIS (review our stats to see if we are on track) – 5-10 mins
3. Quarterly goal update (we set quarterly goals/projects and each person just reports if they are on or off track with their initiatives) -5 mins
5. Review any outstanding tasks from the prior week – 10 mins
4. Priorities for the week (each team member reviews their priorities and we build weekly to-do tasks around those priorities as well as identify if additional support is needed)- 15 -20 mins
5. Resolve – the remaining part of the meeting is spent collaborating on any areas the team has identified around issues, roadblocks, or process improvement.
Alright, that’s it for team meeting productivity! Stay tuned for our next expert spotlight.