Business is fully based on interactions with dozens of people. Whether it is a scheduled meeting or just an informal business talk, communication, gatherings, discussions are an important component of any business enterprise. Make sure they are 100% effective by reading this article.
Everyone knows that all the essential issues are discussed during business meetings as well as solutions are found at them. So, why do we even need to discuss this topic? Studies claim that too many meetings are the number one time-waster in office culture. I would wager that about 5 out of 10 meetings you sit in are either unnecessary or at the very least inefficiently run. So, the question of how to make them fewer and more effective at the same time arises. Let us go to the roots.
We all know what a bad meeting looks like. There is a lack of organization and structure, people talking over one another, and nothing gets accomplished. However, a business meeting is not just the meeting you are attending, it goes beyond that, it is a preparation and the post-meeting as well. By no means is having a good meeting impossible. In fact, it is well within your reach. In this article, we will provide a number of concrete guidelines you can follow in order to maximize your business meeting effectiveness.
First of all, I would like for you to ban all the update meetings. No more updates, please. Business meetings need to be purposeful, they should be about resolution, brainstorming, risk management, information management, etc. when you are bringing people together in a room in order to move forward on an issue or to create ideas. That is what you use a meeting for, not updates.
The majority of business meetings consist minimum of four participants, but do all of them take part in the discussion for real? Usually, there are two leaders who speak out and others who just listen. Go through the agenda of the meeting (the detailed information about the agenda is below) and make sure that you need all the participants to be present there. Or maybe, you can just save your and their time and energy and have a face-to-face conversation with one of them?
Moreover, we have amazing technologies. So, put on some sort of a summary in an email and sent it out to certain people. Or, get a white paper from Papercheap.com to exemplify your information. Sometimes phone calls or messengers can work perfectly as well. Believe us, this is the greatest gift you can give to your team members and the biggest paradigm shift for you in order to run meetings more effectively and efficiently.
Before the business meeting, get all the documentation in order. Yeah, it is probably simple and everyone goes “Of course, we do it”. Well, how do you do it and when do you do it? A lot of times, we get the business meeting preparation just the night before. That is just not enough time particularly when someone is on the agenda. So, think of your pre-read and about what is it that you need. Prepare meeting kit like sticky notes, sharpies, stickers for voting, etc. and ensure you have those things at your fingertips. Trust us, the last thing you want to do is to kill your flow of the meeting and having to leave the room to grab something.
Now we have done a preparatory work. It is time to think about the meeting itself.
Establish Ground Rules
The first thing every leader should have is a set of established ground rules. These are agreed-upon guidelines for the group’s behavior that can include things like “no sidebar conversations” or “refrain from using your cell phone at the meeting”. Ground rules should be posted somewhere in the room where everyone can see them
Like a referee in a game, you have to call a timeout when a player is not done well. In a scenario for a business meeting, it is “Hey, I am running at a time” or “you did not follow one of the session rules”, so you can call a timeout. For this to work well, you have to actually ask a permission from people at the beginning of the meeting. So, when you walk in the room, not only do you pay attention to ground rules, keep things on track.
Make A Roadmap Agenda
It seems we hear about time-management and productivity tools too often, but it is worth mentioning until we learn how to make realistic plans. Have you ever notices that most meetings’ agendas include a huge number of points to discuss? So, what happens next? The attendees skip major points, do not discuss them deeply enough, or run through all of them without getting thoughtful solutions and conclusions for each. Evaluate every topic mentioned in your agenda and decide how much time you might need to discuss it.
Once again, in order not to use your imagination track time during the business meetings and use your experience for the next one.
Use New Meeting Styles
I bet you have been to the boring meeting more than once. The only worse thing than a tedious business meeting is the process of its organization. If you are a leader and keep holding all meeting of yours at the same time, people will be tired of it really fast. However, this problem is not too complicated. Just change the style and your colleagues will feel refreshed.
One of the ways is having the meeting outside the office if the weather is good. You can discuss the same issues sitting in the park and drinking ice tea instead of using the same conference room all the time. People will appreciate your creativity and will be more likely to come up with fresh ideas for your project. In case there is no opportunity to go out, try to help the standing meeting. It must be shorter and more intensive than the usual one. But be sure that people feel more active and no one will be yawning during someone’s speech.
Active Listening and Involvement
One of the keys to the meeting’s success is the participation of everyone. Usually, some people talk a lot and others are just sitting and waiting when they go for a lunch. This is an awful business meeting strategy. Try to make sure that your colleagues are active listeners: ask them questions. Some of them may get special tasks like making a brief conclusion of everyone’s speech, noting strong and weak ideas, etc. All the participants should be informed that your meeting is not a play at the theater – if they come, they must prepare, take their word, express opinions and show interest.
Finish the Business Meeting Right
At the end of your meeting, the last 5-10 minutes summarize all the agreed-upon action items and competencies needed. People actually just hope that everyone took their notes but no one actually is following up. Then you wonder why tasks did not get done according to plan. The last rule and the post-meeting ritual is to send out everything you have collected within 24 hours maximum, ideally two to three hours.
Now, we need to stay away from standard meeting tips you have heard. I have some bad news, to have an agenda, start on time, do your follow-up are not enough to run an effective meeting. What are the most meetings still missing? Focus and results!
So, your meeting needs a mission and outcome statement. Every time. What do you want to walk out the door with as a result of these people being together? With your attendees having this information as a foundation before they come in, all of them will walk in with the desired result in mind. This will yield much better results than mindlessly sitting through yet another boring meeting.
As part of the invitation at the top of the agenda, you need to state the mission and the desired outcome. These two sentences drive results-oriented meetings instead of discussions that end up leading to more meetings. It is a never-ending cycle otherwise.
How about problem-solving meeting examples? Mission – review proposals on how to expand the company’s services onto the European market. Outcome – select the top two proposals and scheduled personal presentations from each. Mission – to discuss logo idea for the Human rights movement. Outcome – walk out the door when you identify the best traits that represent this movement.
Be specific, be concise, be efficient.