8 Tips for More Effective Business Meetings

Thousands of business meetings are held every day around the world, be that online or in person. The majority of the most important business decisions and discussions are held during meetings, which are a crucial component of every business’s everyday operations. However, for a variety of reasons, meetings are also one of the parts of professional life that receive the most complaints.

“Such complaints are supported by research showing that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s,” says a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. And that’s not even counting all the last-minute get-togethers that aren’t scheduled, it continues.

This raises a lot of concerns about how we ought to conduct meetings and how we shouldn’t. In the end, the idea of a company gathering is not flawed inherently. Instead, meetings fall short due to poor preparation and execution (or both). This is a waste of money, time, patience, effort and other resources.

Your meetings do not have to be like this! Here are 8 meeting management suggestions to help you deal with these annoyances and run meetings at work that are more successful and productive.

1. Prepare!

Preparation is the first meeting management advice. Perhaps the single biggest reason why business meetings fail is a lack of preparation. Therefore, before you issue the invitation to the next meeting, pause and consider the following important questions:

– Do you first understand why you are meeting? If you do, try and say this in a single sentence
– What conclusions or actions do you want to come out of this meeting? Also note these down
– And last, is a meeting even required? Or could a phone call, an email, or another form of contact achieve the same outcome more effectively?

2. Have an agenda – ALWAYS

Once you’ve established your goals and decided that you do, in fact, need to meet them, put them down in a straightforward meeting agenda that can be shared with everyone on the invitation. It’s crucial to send the agenda out in advance so that attendees have enough time to prepare for your meeting. It is also crucial for maintaining the focus and direction of your meeting.

The best advice is to avoid being overly ambiguous. It is not beneficial to include agenda items like “discuss project” or “present slides.” Be as precise as necessary!

3. Invite the necessary people

It can be tempting (and occasionally important) to invite everyone to meetings, but doing so can put a tremendous strain on other people’s time and energy. Consider giving them a brief phone call, email, or chat to see if they would like to be included in the meeting if you’re not sure if they should attend. Utilising your IT’s calendar programmes’ optional attendees feature is an additional consideration, here.

4. Be considerate about when you schedule meetings

When you schedule your meetings, exercise caution. There are periods of the day that are prohibited in many workplaces for meeting scheduling. These typically occur in the morning, during lunch, or in the final hour of the day. If someone arrives late or needs to depart early, scheduling meetings during these periods runs the risk of losing time and productivity. However, because each business is unique, plan your meetings in accordance with its unique DNA. Also, be considerate on a person by person level. Have you spent enough time with a certain team member to know that a certain time of the day just doesn’t work for them? Like school-pickup time?

5. Start on time, end on time (or early)

It’s perfectly okay to allow people to mingle and chat briefly before a meeting, but it’s also crucial to make sure that your meetings begin and end as near to the scheduled times as feasibly possible.

Look for ways to gather participants and get things going if it helps to keep things on course. Once everyone is present, for instance, think about getting up and closing the conference room door. You might also request that the person standing closest to the door closes it. Either strategy will hint to attendees that the meeting is about to begin.

Alternately, if the time allotted for the meeting is running out, politely enter the conversation to inform everyone that the finish time is almost near. You may say something like, “This has been a productive discussion, and I don’t want to cut it short, but we are running out of time. Should we arrange a follow-up meeting to carry on this conversation?”

To ensure that you are making the best use of everyone’s time during the meeting, it is also crucial to encourage participation. To eliminate unneeded distractions, you can even think about forbidding attendees from using their phones throughout the meeting.

6. Take notes

It is important to take notes and record any and all meeting takeaways, including discussion topics, action items, significant statements, and open questions. Sometimes it even makes sense to type your meeting notes out loud for everyone to see. This has the additional benefit of assuring general agreement and clarity regarding the outcomes of the meeting, in addition to helping to maintain that the conversation is on topic.

7. Direct the discussion

Sometimes, especially during brainstorming sessions, it’s easy for the conversation to veer off course. These side trips can occasionally be beneficial, but more often than not, they are neither practical or helpful in the first instance. When this happens, it’s critical to gently nudge the conversation back towards the pertinent items on the agenda.

Consider inserting yourself back into the conversation and using one of these methods to refocus the meeting whenever the subject wanders off-topic during the meeting:

– Note the topic as something to talk about later, when the time is right
– Suggest holding a different meeting entirely, to discuss the proposed topic
– Inform the group politely that the discussion is veering off-subject and that you would like to bring it back on track

8. Follow-up with a message

This part should be simple if you took thorough notes during the meeting. Simply email your meeting notes to every participant following the meeting. Add any specific follow-up tasks to the action list and assign a task manager if there were any. If there are follow-up meetings that need to be planned, do so right away to avoid scheduling issues in the future.