Strategic problems and projects within the company cannot be solved by sending emails or memos. It requires a series of working meetings to discuss the difficulties encountered, present answers and agree on what needs to be done.
But how much more effective can your meeting be? Should it be longer or perhaps shorter? Should you prepare a Powerpoint presentation? With few or many slides?
These meetings give teams the opportunity to think together about internal and external solutions and topics, to outline the company’s strategy and to take stock. However, organizing a business meeting can be a complicated task and can turn into a mess because there are so many aspects to consider.
For many employees, business meetings are considered a pleasant time to relax while others talk. This may explain the statistics below (source: meetingking.com):
- 39% of people admit to nodding off during meetings,
- 25 to 50% of meetings are described as a waste of time.
To organize an efficient work meeting, we invite you to continue reading our article. And you will see for yourself that employees who used to nod off during meetings are attentive, fully awake and proactive.
Why hold a business meeting?
Some people are against meetings. For them it is a real waste of time, and the discussions held are useless and the costs associated with them are significant and futile. However, the advantages of business meetings are no longer debatable: it is a strategic management and communication tool that allows the exchange of useful and important information, as well as the acquisition and development of new ideas through brainstorming and the participation of all participants.
Business meetings are also useful for finding an appropriate solution to a problem and for the smooth running of a company. Many projects simply could not be realized without a minimum of collaboration and exchange.
How to organize a business meeting?
Regardless of the circumstances in which you plan your meeting, the purpose of the gathering and the people invited, careful preparation is essential to its success. At the same time, you guarantee unparalleled efficiency.
Set objectives, choose participants, prepare useful documents… To increase the productivity of all your employees, it is essential to make sure that everything is ready when the time comes.
Schedule meetings only if you have to
Don’t schedule a meeting just because you have a once-a-month meeting policy in place. Cancel your meeting if you have nothing important to say or ask.
Not everyone knows how to run an effective business meeting. On the other hand, everyone thinks that meetings take up too much time in a workday! However, there are times when a problem needs to be solved and several people need to be consulted in order to take the best option. The first question to ask is, “Is a meeting really necessary, or is there another solution?”
To answer this question, it is essential to clearly identify the purpose(s) of the meeting by answering the following four easy questions:
- Why hold this meeting?
- What outcome do you want to achieve?
- What information do you want to share or what decision needs to be made?
- Who should participate and what will be their role?
Define the agenda for the meeting
The purpose of the agenda should be explicit and measurable. To give participants time to prepare, the agenda should be distributed well in advance.
The meeting agenda should focus on the most critical objective. Do not clutter it with multiple objectives.
For example, you should not combine “operational performance evaluation” and “strategic decision making” as these are completely separate objectives that require separate techniques.
A business meeting is usually about making a decision or choosing the best option from among the available options; if there are no valid alternatives to present or consider, the meeting is a waste of time.
Choose and Invite the right people for the agenda
When you are about to plan a business meeting, make sure to invite only those employees who are relevant to the topics on the agenda. It is important that the people invited to the meeting have a real interest in it. If this is not the case, you risk ending up with “spectators”.
If they are not interested in the topic being discussed and do not have the knowledge to deal with the topics on the agenda, one of two things will happen:
-They will nod off or fall asleep.
-They will talk about topics they have no idea about.
Either way, the conference will fail.
Stick to the agenda
Discussing issues that are not on the agenda is a sure way to get the meeting off track. So stick to the plan.
When running a meeting, be sure to post the agenda on a large screen to help participants stay focused. If someone starts to wander off topic, gently bring them back on track.
If you still have time, off-topic issues can be addressed in this time slot near the end of the meeting. However, it is advisable to categorically object to discussing issues that are not on the agenda.
Ban distractions in meetings
During a meeting, setting strict rules is essential, calls, emails, web surfing, texting and other distractions should be prohibited.
If you find it necessary, put up signs such as “Please turn off your cell phones”. One of the most important criteria for a successful business meeting is to demand the attention of all participants.
Create commitment and active participation
A well-organized meeting is only half the battle. You also need to discover strategies to engage and motivate your employees to actively participate in the meeting.
This active participation is essential as it helps your participants focus and retain the necessary information.
When the meeting is over, they will feel that they have accomplished something, which will likely encourage them to attend the next one.
Implement the decisions made at the meeting
Failure of a meeting results from disagreement about what was agreed upon. Your meeting is useless if you don’t resolve the issues you discussed.
Write the meeting minutes
Designate someone to take the minutes of the meeting, which is an essential project documentation tool that can be consulted at any time after the meeting. You may want to use a recording device to ensure that the minutes are accurate.
The key to success is preparation, the best solution is training. The purpose of training is to help you prepare stimulating meetings.
–Identify the objective of the meeting in order to choose the best format among the different types that exist.
–Improve your managerial posture in order to have an impact when you speak.
–Assimilate the tools created to improve meeting preparation and efficiency.
In order to plan a productive meeting, it is important that you get organized and determine if you really need the meeting, who needs to attend and how much time you need to make it successful. Refer to our steps when planning a meeting to prepare, boost productivity and fully engage your team.
All your preparation and organization will pay off, but remember to remain flexible throughout the meeting. Sub-topics may arise during this meeting; find ways to address them, even if only briefly.
It’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected. After all, no one is without fault; what matters is that everyone stays engaged during the meeting and that the end result meets all your goals and objectives.