A good meeting can provide useful information to the right people, adding a new sense of focus and direction to your department or business. A bad meeting can leave members of staff bored, disinterested, and wondering what they have achieved from spending time in a boardroom that could have been spent working. Follow these lessons to ensure you get the best from your business meetings.
Invite the Right People
If you find yourself wondering whether someone should be invited to a meeting then they probably shouldn’t. Try to keep numbers to the minimum required. Inviting people who don’t really need to be there wastes their time and yours. If people are uninterested in what is being said it can distract others and the meeting can lose focus. Team leaders can always report back to other members of the team if required.
Keep Them Short
Try to restrict your meetings to 30 minutes. Any longer than 40 minutes and people’s attention will really start to wane. Start with the most important points and get your message across in a concise and direct manner. If the meeting involves discussions from other parties, than writing an agenda will ensure that the conversation does not go off on a tangent. Circulate the agenda before the meeting to ensure that all parties can prepare for what is being discussed. If it is a weekly or monthly meeting that is always in the diary don’t feel the need to drag it out to fill the time slot. If there are no new issues or nothing in particular to discuss, dissolve the meeting early to avoid wasting people’s time.
Ensuring that you have any information and statistics to hand before the meeting commences. Try to anticipate any questions that may arise and ensure you have the relevant answers and information readily available. Writing up your objectives and goals will help you decide what you want to achieve before you set foot in the meeting; make sure you are able to back up any comments with relevant data. If the meeting involves any kind of training provide a written document that can be used for reference during and after the meeting.
A record should be made of every meeting so that everyone knows exactly what action they need to take once it has finished. Make sure someone is designated to take notes, even if it is a short meeting. After the meeting circulate the minutes by email to all interested parties so everyone has a copy of the ideas discussed and the future plan of action in writing. The last thing you want is some ambiguity about the way forward because someone wasn’t listening.
If you are the organizer then it is your responsibility to ensure that the meeting achieves its purpose. Keep track that it is not overrunning, the agenda is being followed and the people required to speak are being allowed to express themselves. If someone is speaking too much or others not enough, intervene. It doesn’t have to be done in a forceful way but can be achieved by simply asking a question to someone who you would like to see contribute.