Business meetings can be an incredibly powerful but often misused tool. Time is the most valuable resource we have, yet when it comes to meetings, many businesses won’t think twice about allowing them to drag on and on without any resolutions being reached. Often once the meeting is over, no one has any idea what to do next to move things forward.
According to the 2017-2018 State of Enterprise Work report, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer. But meetings don’t have to be that way. By running effective meetings, you can get results, have questions answered and leave attendees feeling energised about their work.
Ready to put an end to your morale-crushing meetings? Here are our top five effective meeting tips…
Photo by BENJAMIN CHILD
1. Set the agenda
You’d think setting an agenda for a meeting would be less of a tip and more a case of stating the obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many meetings start with no sense of purpose and are simply held because they’re scheduled to take place each week. Setting a meeting agenda needn’t take more than a couple of minutes. All you need to do is send a quick email to the attendees a day – or even just a few hours – before the meeting, with a summary of why the meeting is being held and what you intend to cover. This will give attendees at least some time to think about the points they’d like to raise.
2. Start and end on time
Setting a start time and end time for the meeting that you actually stick to is an important part of running effective meetings. This ensures that you work quickly, accomplish what’s on the agenda and get back to work promptly. It’s also essential that you are strict with those who are late. It’s not an unusual trait of those further up the chain of command to keep everybody waiting, but they must set an example. Nothing will drain the room’s motivation more than waiting for the person in charge to show up.
3. Have the right equipment and know how to use it
There’s nothing worse than a group of very busy people staring into space while someone spends 10 minutes figuring out how to plug in the projector. It’s important to make sure all the equipment you need is ready and waiting before the meeting begins. If you do need specialist equipment to help get your point across then make sure you use it. Rather than buying a projector, display or large screen especially, why not hire the equipment you need? This will reduce the cost while helping you present information in a more memorable way.
4. Get everyone to speak up
One of the biggest problems with meetings is that they tend to be dominated by those with the loudest voices but not necessarily the best ideas. For the more introverted members of the team, it can be a real challenge to speak up. One secret to running effective meetings is to make sure it’s not a free-for-all. Asking each attendee what they think in turn can give the quieter, more thoughtful employees the space they need to shine.
It’s equally important to create a supportive, non-judgemental environment, where questions, suggestions and ideas are all encouraged. Every contribution should be welcomed as the more suggestions and ideas you have, the more refined the outcome of the meeting will be.
5. Finish with an action plan
You should always end the meeting with an action plan that sets out what will happen next, who is responsible for doing it and what the deadline is. Without this, all the time you’ve spent in the meeting is likely to be for nothing. There also needs to be some level of tracking to make sure the things that need to be done are completed on time.
Running effective meetings is a reflection of the leadership skills of the person in charge. The work you do setting the agenda, starting and ending on time and creating a supportive environment are all investments in the success of your team. By following our effective meeting tips, you can ensure the ideas and plans you discuss lead to positive change in your business.