Meetings are a staple part of the working week for most of us. However, we often dread meetings because they can be ineffective and time-consuming. If you’re a meeting leader you have the opportunity (and responsibility) to make sure that your business meetings are effective. This post explores 10 different things that meeting leaders can do in order to make sure that business meetings are effective.
Before booking a meeting, you should first question if you really need a one. “Let’s schedule a meeting” is quite often a knee jerk response to any business issues that arise. However, how often do we question the need to book a meeting? Ultimately, we have a finite number of hours in the working day to get things done, and the more meetings we have, the more working time we lose. That being said, there are many appropriate situations for meetings, for example, when you need outside input. But sometimes projects can be moved forward with a simple email or a quick call. By taking a more critical approach, you can remove unnecessary meetings from your schedule, and have more time to get work done.
When you decide to schedule a meeting, make sure you have a clear objective for the session. In order to make your meeting as effective as possible, your objective should not focus on what you plan to discuss, e.g “new projects for Q3 2018”, but rather it should focus on what you want to achieve during the meeting, such as: “Outline, confirm and delegate new projects for Q3 2018”. This will give you a clear goal to work towards and make it easier for you to stay focused during the meeting.
Once you have set your objective, you should share it with the meeting participants so that they can prepare for the meeting accordingly. Add the objective in the meeting invite to make sure that your meeting can be effective as possible!
The most effective meetings have great planning and preparation behind them. As the meeting leader you should create a solid agenda and collect any numbers, documents or presentations you need, so that decisions can be made in an informed manner. If you need attendees to prepare something in particular, tell them what is needed in advance.
Quite often meeting leaders invite either too many, or unnecessary people to meetings. The cause of this might be office politics, or simply not taking the time to really consider who really needs to be in the meeting. If there are too many people in a meeting, that are not essential to the objective, meeting effectivness can be decreased. In order to ensure that you invite only those you need, refer to your meeting objective and reflect on who you need to help you achieve your meeting goal.
These days, many digital calendars automatically book events such as meetings in one-hour slots. Whilst automatic features such as this are very convenient, one hour might be too long for a meeting. Scientific studies show that most people cannot really focus for an hour. Therefore, by keeping meetings shorter, you can maintain great focus and be as effective as possible.
Delays in getting meetings started can impact the whole agenda, and your whole working day. By starting on time, you will get the most out of the allotted meeting time. It is also important to end your meetings on time in order to respect your own time, and the time of the other participants. If you haven’t reached your goal by the end of the meeting, don’t let the meeting continue - book a further session at a later date to continue the discussion. Make punctuality part of how you conduct meetings in order to increase meeting effectiveness.
A meeting is only as effective as its outcome. Usually, by the end of a meeting there are action points and tasks that need to be followed up at a later date. As the meeting leader, it is your responsibility that these points are followed up on, and that projects move forward!
Without structure, meetings can be in danger of descending into passionate discussions where only the most dominant voices in the room get heard. To avoid this situation, implement a system that can make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. Mentimeter can be used in many different meeting situations in order to collect opinions and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard.
There is not just one way to hold a meeting. In fact, there are dozens of different methods which have been engineered to make meetings more effective. If you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with different methods and see which ones are most effective for you!
Technology can enhance meetings a lot. However, it can also be a distraction and reduce the effectiveness of the meeting. Ensure that your business meetings are effective as they can be by removing any unnecessary tech. You can let your meeting participants know what they need to bring by adding a note in the meeting agenda such as: “No laptops, but please bring your smartphone for voting with Mentimeter”.