Depending on who you ask, business meetings are either a necessary or completely unnecessary evil. Although there are plenty of nightmare stories about meetings that took a long time and didn’t accomplish anything, meetings that were taken over by one person, or meetings where everyone stopped paying attention, they can still be productive tools and opportunities for your team to reconnect and touch base on current projects and goals.
While you most likely can’t eliminate meetings from your company’s schedule entirely, there are a number of ways you can make them more effective. You can also find ways to make them something for your team to look forward to.
Set an Agenda or Goal
Your employees shouldn’t walk into a meeting wondering why they are there. To keep that from happening, create a clear agenda for each meeting and distribute it to attendees in advance. Setting an agenda not only lets people know what the meeting is about, it also allows them to prepare in advance for it, by giving them the chance to prepare questions or to prepare to contribute any new information they have.
Along with setting the schedule for the meeting, you should set a clear objective or goal. Although it’s fine to want to check in on the status of a project or to see how people are faring, if you don’t have a clear mission for a meeting, it’s likely to meander and potentially waste a lot of people’s time.
Don’t Invite Everyone
You might like the idea of including everyone in your company in every meeting. But, having too many people at the table can make a meeting less efficient and make it difficult for you to accomplish your goals during it. Plus, if you invite or require everyone in your company to attend a meeting, even if the subject of it only affects a few people, those who do attend but get nothing out of it will feel as if their time has been wasted. Don’t worry that you’ll leave someone out if you don’t extend an open invitation to everyone to every meeting. The employees who aren’t invited are just as likely to be relieved.
Make a Plan to Stay on Track
Lots of things can take a meeting off course. A discussion can veer off on a tangent, a new concern can come up in the midst of the meeting. While you do want to cover any issues that are relevant, it’s also important to keep your meeting on track, so that you accomplish your objective and so that you don’t go over time. You can use a version of the Pomodoro technique to keep the meeting going smoothly and to make sure you cover all you need to cover. Spend 10 minutes covering one topic, then take a short break before spending 10 minutes on the next topic.
To help people see what will be covered in the meeting, list all of the agenda items on a whiteboard or projector. When you complete a topic, cross it off the agenda. Having the schedule visible lets people see what still needs to be taken care of during the meeting and helps them avoid going off course.
One issue with meetings is that people often don’t seem to have anything to contribute or feel put on the spot as the meeting draws to a close. Instead of asking an opened ended “any thoughts?” near the end of the meeting, dedicate a minute or two of it to having people write down ideas or questions. Then, go around the room and ask attendees to share their ideas or thoughts. When employees know that they will be expected to share their thoughts, they are more likely to pay attention to what’s going on and more likely to want the meeting to stay on course.
Meetings are part of running a business. To learn more about running effective meetings and how doing so can help your company grow, contact the team at New Direction Capital today.
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