To start, there are different types of meetings. To ensure you are being smart in your approach, know the type of meeting you intend to hold:
- Brainstorming meetings should be held when you want to generate as many ideas as possible. This is the one type of meeting where you can do away with a specific agenda.
- Action-oriented meetings should be conducted when a crisis is looming or a deadline is approaching. Participants should be given enough time to gather their thoughts and recommendations before the meeting.
- Short-term planning meetings will likely involve key decision makers. These types of meetings will likely include teamwork, so it’s important to make sure everyone understands what the meeting is about and what you’d like to accomplish during the gathering.
- Long-term planning meetings are likely to include most, if not all, top executives, and many small businesses will invite the entire staff as well, if budget allows. If many employees are involved in the meeting, make sure to choose a format that either maximizes the opportunity for executives to share their vision with the employees – or for employees themselves to discuss what changes they’d like to see to help the company meet its goals.
When conducting meetings, time is often money. If decisions are made, creative solutions are devised or consensus is reached, then you might consider the meeting to be efficient and a good use of employees’ time. If, on the other hand, the meeting consists of long discussions on topics that are irrelevant for the meeting or an information dump that is difficult to follow, then you might feel you’ve wasted time and money. The following are tips to running a productive business meeting.
Stay on point
Since a meeting can easily go off the rails, you should take some initial steps to ensure the gathering proceeds smoothly and efficiently.
- A meeting shouldn’t be a comprehensive update from each member of your management team; disparate issues such as monthly goals and long-term planning initiatives. By contrast, meetings that are relevant to all attendees and that focus on one or two topics tend to work best.
- While creative brainstorming sessions might not require a tight agenda, most meetings should have a detailed one that is distributed in advance
- Briefly speak with employees who will be leading the meeting and determine which agenda items are most essential. It’s also important to discuss what needs to be accomplished during the gathering.
- Although you might think you’re being productive by multi-tasking during a meeting – answering e-mails or working on another project – it has been proven to lessen your creativity and interfere with long-term retention.
- Whether you’re running the meeting, taking notes or just sitting in, try to show up on time and stay until the end. This will help make sure everyone is on the same page once the meeting concludes, and a recap to somebody who missed some of the meeting will not be necessary.
If you plan your meeting and invitation list strategically, motivate attendees to make meaningful contributions, prepare a comprehensive agenda and use some conversation-guiding techniques – you can make sure your meeting is one that’s worth having. Do you have any tips on how to run successful meetings? What challenges have you encountered? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community below.