Maximizing Your Time and Efficiency in Meetings
Owning and running a small business successfully is all about how well you brainstorm, organize, execute plans, and — most importantly — communicate with the rest of your team. As a necessary forum for coming up with strategies, evaluating progress, solving problems, and facilitating communication, effective business meetings are an essential part of that success.
However, even as a business owner who always tries their best, you know the best intentions for business meetings can go awry. At the end of a sit-down discussion in your company, you don’t always accomplish the company goals or crucial communication you had in mind.
In the business world and the professional sphere, meetings are a must, but unfortunately, business leaders and team members don’t always have the right expertise or action plans to make sure each meeting stays focused, provides resolutions, generates ideas, and fosters communication. How can you prevent your meetings from turning into unproductive get-togethers and channel them into creating results instead? With these effective meeting strategies, you’ll be well on your way to conducting effective, meaningful meetings:
- Provide a Game PlanBefore you begin a meaningful meeting, it’s important to set expectations and give your staff an idea of what the meeting’s focus will be, ideas you hope to generate, tasks you intend to tackle or new methods you need to introduce. Send out a short email, put up a bulletin, or mark a reminder on your company calendar that gives more information than just the date and time of the meeting. Provide a brief explanation of what you expect to discuss and what your staff members should prepare to bring to the table.Even if you have a regular weekly or monthly meeting to routinely evaluate progress, make a list or provide a few key, current points before each meeting. When everyone goes in with ideas and expectations, the meeting is already bound to have a better structure.
- Prepare to ParticipateIn addition to making your workers or business partners aware of what you’ll focus on in the meeting, you need to prepare your own list of topics and points to bring up — because you’ll be leading the discussion. While open conversation is a good idea, a complete lack of structure in leading your meeting won’t make a good recipe for productivity.It’s a good idea to make a brief plan for how the meeting will proceed, including your introduction, important points, questions, problems, and even a specific time to open up the floor. Don’t make your voice the only one in the meeting, but know how to guide the conversation in the right direction by following a previously prepared plan.
- Get FocusedDuring the meeting, nothing is more distracting than you or your employees bringing outside devices or issues to the table. It’s better for everyone to give their full attention to the issues at hand, so make sure you leave behind smartphones, laptops, and other distractions, and meet in a setting where everyone can see and hear clearly and equally. Try not to diverge into small talk or personal issues while the meeting is still in session — focusing fully on the business discussion will allow more collaboration, idea generation, and progress.
- Open the Ground for IdeasLike we said, no one comes to a meeting just to listen to a lecture. Leading your discussion is important, but make sure you always leave room for other workers to provide input, bring up ideas, hash out problems, and give feedback. A meeting is a collaborative environment, so everyone should have a voice. Even before the meeting, encourage your staff to come with issues or ideas they need to discuss.
- EvaulateWhen the meeting comes to a conclusion, evaluate your progress by asking for final thoughts from all the meeting members and going over the list of topics you started with. Did you cover all the essential issues, come up with solutions, and develop new ideas to propel your business forward? If you didn’t address every point or solve every problem, don’t worry — just make sure to roll the topics to your list of issues to tackle next time.
Conducting effective meetings is all about preparation, participation, communication, and evaluation, so make sure you implement these important strategies into your next meeting.