When done right, business meetings can help an organization achieve its goals. During such gatherings, team members discuss crucial business matters. They talk about concerns, come up with possible solutions, make decisions, and more.
Successful meeting management is therefore important if you want to make the most of your time together as a team.
If you’re a business owner or a team leader, here are some pointers to help ensure your business meetings run smoothly.
1. Choose the best venue
First off, you need to pick an appropriate space for the meeting. You want a place that’s comfortable, spacious enough, and ensures distractions are kept to a minimum.
In case your office doesn’t have a conference room, you can rent meeting rooms per hour. Coworking space providers usually have these rooms available for hourly rental or longer. You can check out options that can accommodate your entire team. In addition, you can even use amenities such as audio-visual equipment, printers, WiFi, and more.
2. Have an objective
It’s vital to have a clear purpose in mind. Before calling the meeting, you should know what you want to achieve in the first place. Determining this ahead of time allows you to focus on goals and issues that you want to discuss with your team.
If you can instead communicate important information through an email, then holding a meeting may not be necessary anymore.
Having an unambiguous objective is a top priority for a productive meeting.
3. Create an agenda
Next, you need to have an agenda before a scheduled meeting.
Write down topics you hope to discuss with the team. Be more specific than general. Also, do send out print or digital copies of the agendas to participants in advance. That way, they also have ample time to prepare for the meeting.
4. Invite the right people
Let’s face it: not all meetings require everyone’s attendance.
Sometimes you will only need specific team members to discuss, say, an upcoming project or a serious concern. They may have expertise in certain areas or they may be key personnel you want to involve in the decision-making process.
During such instances, don’t bother inviting others. You don’t need to fill the room up to have a good meeting. In fact, limiting attendance in meetings can help you and your team members save time and energy.
As a general rule, you only need to have everyone when discussing major concerns or when you have company-wide announcements.
5. Start on time
You have the responsibility to set a good example.
According to a NY Times article:
“Nothing can drain the energy from a room quite like waiting for the person in charge to show up.”
So make sure that you arrive early at the venue and begin the meeting exactly on time. Don’t wait for participants to turn up before you start. If you’re consistent about this, others will likely feel inspired to follow suit.
6. Assign someone to take notes
You want to keep track of important suggestions and decisions made during the meeting. Have someone transcribe everything so you can later review the minutes with all the participants. Furthermore, these notes will prove very useful as you follow-up on certain items in future meetings.
7. Use visual aids
No, you don’t have to spend an entire hour talking in front of everyone. Instead, you can use visual aids to illustrate some of your points. You can play a short video or show charts and infographics. It’s a constant challenge to retain people’s attention during a long meeting, so you have to be creative.
8. Encourage active participation
You want team members to participate, as much as possible. You definitely don’t have to do all the talking – plus you need to stop others from dominating the meeting as well.
“Do not let a few people take control of your meetings,” advises Entrepreneur. “Instead, create a friendly atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions.”
Ask thoughtful questions and allow people to respond. Find a way to involve even those who may be mostly silent during your meeting. At the same time, encourage participants to raise their hands if they have any questions. Being an inclusive leader surely yields positive results.
9. Sum up clearly
Before closing the meeting, summarize all the major points discussed. Mention which individuals are assigned which specific tasks, along with the expected date of completion for each one.
Summing up will only require a few minutes but you definitely shouldn’t skip this. The goal here, of course, is to ensure that everyone’s on the same page before you go back to your desks.
10. End on time
Finishing on time is also important. No one wants to spend long hours in a meeting with no end in sight. People will lose interest and will find it harder to contribute creatively.
Former Apple CEO Tim Cook once put it this way:
“The longer the meeting, the less is accomplished.”