How to Host More Effective Meetings by Collecting Input in Advance

Katy Mrvova
a picture of a young business professional running a meeting with her coworkers used as a featured image for a slido blog post about hosting more effective meetings by collecting input in advance

As a wise man once said: A great meeting starts before the meeting. Okay, it was us who said it here. But we heartily believe that and we’re not alone.

In their book ‘How to fix meetings’, Graham Allcott and Hayley Watts advise applying a 40-20-40 rule to meetings, with 40% of the time spent on the prep phase.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of our favorite meeting preparation tactics that will not only save you so much time but will make your meetings more productive and effective.

It’s simple: Collect people’s input before the meeting.

Use Slido polls, surveys, and Q&A for collecting ideas, feedback, or questions from your colleagues in advance.

Simply share a link to Slido sometime before the meeting and ask them to vote in a poll, fill out a survey, or ask a question.

You can use this tactic in multiple ways, for different types of meetings. Here are our four favorite use cases:

#1: All-hands meetings & Town halls: Start collecting questions in advance for a better Q&A

Larger meetings such as all-hands, town halls, or strategic team meetings provide an opportunity to address questions or concerns that your team members might have.

Give your executives as well as your employees time to prepare for the Q&A by sharing a link to Slido with your employees a few days leading up to the all-hands meeting.

You can share it in the meeting invitation, as part of the meeting agenda, or through your internal communications channels.

To give you an example from our own kitchen, our Head of Internal Communications, Silvia shares a link to Slido Q&A with us one week before the meeting.

an example of collecting questions before a meeting via Slido in internal communications channel

This way, our employees have a safe space to post their questions at any time – even anonymously if they want to.

We always leave the Q&A open during the all-hands meeting as well so that our teammates can keep submitting questions or upvoting questions that were already posted by others.

When we get to the Q&A part of the meeting, we display Slido on full screen and the meeting moderator poses the questions to the executive team to answer on our employees’ behalf.

Thanks to this approach, our CEO, Peter Komornik, and the rest of our executive team, are able to prepare informed answers to complex questions in advance.

a snapshot from Slido's all hands meetings during the a Q&A session depicting a Slido Q&A being displayed on the screen

Read more about this tactic here: How to Host Better Q&A Sessions at All-Hands Meetings

💡 Key benefits of this tactic:

  • Provides a safe space for employees to ask questions
  • They can ask even anonymously
  • Gives executives time to prepare their answers and understand what the most pressing issues are

#2: Retrospective: Collect feedback from your team via a survey before you meet

A team retrospective is another meeting type where you can benefit greatly from collecting insights beforehand.

Create a stop-start-continue survey (or any other survey format you’re using for retrospectives) in Slido and send a link to the survey to your meeting participants. Send it a few days leading up to the meeting and ask everyone to fill it out.

screenshot of a Slido survey with questions aimed to recap the year in a retrospective

Go through people’s submissions and look for patterns, items mentioned repeatedly, or any other important feedback. This way, you can identify the most burning issues which you can then use to create an agenda, and drive discussions during the meeting.

💡 Key benefits of this tactic:

  • Lets you identify the common themes in advance
  • Saves time during the meeting for a productive discussion
  • People have more time to think through what they want to share

You may also like: How To Run a Great Retrospective With Your Remote Team

#3: Brainstorming: Let your team think up and submit ideas before the meeting

The brainstorming doesn’t necessarily have to start on the day you meet for the session. Allow your team some more time to think about their ideas.

With Slido Ideas, you can create a topic and share a link to Slido with your team a few days before your brainstorming session so they can start posting their ideas in advance.

Simply attach a link to Slido to the meeting invite and a meeting agenda, or share it in your internal comms channels such as Slack or Webex.

an example of collecting ideas before a brainstorming meeting via Slido in internal communications channel

This is a much more inclusive approach as it gives your colleagues a safe space for submitting their ideas – everyone can contribute equally, even the ones that fear speaking up in the meeting.

They can even submit their ideas anonymously if they want to.

Plus, it’s more efficient than brainstorming ideas during meetings. It allows you to review all the submissions before a meeting and then spend the meeting time discussing and prioritizing.

💡 Key benefits of this tactic:

  • Saves a meeting time for a productive discussion
  • Inclusion: Everyone has the same conditions to share their ideas – even people who are shy or can’t join personally
  • Employees can post ideas also anonymously

Read also: 5 Tips for Designing an Inclusive (Remote-Friendly) Brainstorming Session

#4: Team meetings: Ask colleagues for input asynchronously, then use it to drive a meeting discussion

You can benefit from collecting your team members’ opinions or ideas also before regular team meetings, especially when the purpose of a meeting is to make a decision or discuss a certain matter.

If you meet to make a decision about something, you can find out what people think even before you meet.

Just create a multiple choice poll or a ranking poll, add the options, and ask people to vote for their preferred one. You’ll see instantly what the most popular opinion is, you can wrap the discussion around it, and get valuable insight from both camps.

slido multiple choice poll decision making

You can also gather people’s verbal comments on the object of discussion in advance – by using an open text poll.

The great advantage is that you’ll be able to collect more input and a less biased one than you normally would at the meeting.

People’s submissions will provide an overall insight into how your teammates think about the topic and you’ll be able to ask better questions and build up a more relevant discussion.

a screenshot of a Slido open text poll with submissions from multiple people during a live feedback session

Another great use case is collecting people’s questions before a meeting (see point #1 about all-hands meetings).

Whenever there’s a hot topic going on – such as a change of strategy or a new big project – you can share a link to Slido Q&A with your colleagues so they can submit any questions that they have. You can then address them at a meeting during a Q&A session.

💡 Key benefits of this tactic:

  • Inclusive & democratic: Everyone can contribute equally
  • Even people who can’t attend a meeting can share their input
  • Collected input helps you lead the discussion

Read also: How to Use Polls to Drive Productive Meeting Discussions: 4 Easy Tactics

Final thoughts

There are many tips and tricks on how to make your meetings more effective and productive out there – we keep bringing them to you regularly through this blog.

In this article, we’ve talked about one of our favorite meeting tactics: Collecting input from team members before a meeting.

As simple as it is, it will save you so much time, and you’ll be able to spend the meeting time productively and discuss the most important issues.

Use Slido polls, surveys, and Q&A for collecting input from your colleagues in advance so that everyone has the same opportunity to share their ideas in a safe, inclusive way.

Simply create a poll or a survey and then share a link to Slido with your colleagues in your internal channels.

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