Business meetings have been the standard for over 100 years; they’ve been the method used to connect people, discuss issues, conduct business and more. Over this time, business meetings have changed due to advances in technology and culture.
In the 21st century, how do you ensure meetings are productive? Before we move on to that topic, let’s take a look at some statistics about business meetings.
The Harvard Business review conducted a survey of senior managers, and here’s what they found. According to Harvard Business Review, of 182 senior managers surveyed, 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work; 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient; 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking; and 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.
Ouch! If these statistics carry through to most business meetings, then we’re in trouble. Although completely necessary, meetings can end up being a waste of time, money and even brain drain. What can you do to make your meetings more effective and productive?
Ensure Your Meetings Are Productive
We did some research to find tips that will help you keep your meetings on track, energized and productive:
1). Set a clear objective: in other words, decide what the meeting is about. Having a clear objective will keep discussions focused, so come up with a clear reason for the meeting and make sure the agenda topics firmly support the meeting objective.
2). Create an agenda: an agenda creates the framework or outline of your meeting. It should cover information such as:
Why is the meeting necessary? What are the meetings goals—these should be stated in the agenda.
- Don’t forget to list the date, time and place of the meeting (include directions for those coming from outside the company).
- Choose topics that are important to everyone on the team or at the meeting.
- Estimate the time needed for each topic—keep this as strict as possible.
- Names of speakers should be listed—along with their topics.
- Stick to the agenda as much as possible—this will keep the meeting focused and on course.
In addition, it’s a good idea to send the agenda to all who will attend the meeting in advance – they’ll have a chance to review and prepare ahead of time.
3). Keep meetings short: keeping the meeting short (around 18-20 minutes), helps keep everyone’s attention. The longer the meeting goes, the more unfocused and unengaged people become.
4). Entertainment (icebreaker): it may be helpful to open with an icebreaker such as a team-building activity or introductions and a fun drill to get everyone interacting with one another. This helps set the mood and makes your group more productive. Keep it short, but fun.
5). Start & end the meeting on time: wasted time costs money and more, so be sure to start your meeting on time. Be sure to end the meeting on time, too.
6). Unplug: it might be a good idea to have everyone to turn off their smartphones and laptops. While this may cause some resentment, it will also encourage active listening and participation during the meeting. Everyone will focus on what’s being said, rather than surfing the Internet, checking emails and/or texting.
8). Keep the meeting small: limit the people invited to the meeting to only those who are necessary for the specific project. This way, you maximize the time used for discussion by keeping it on topic with those who need to hear the details. The others not needed in the meeting can continue to work and get things done.
9). Keep the focus: stay focused on the agenda and the meeting’s objectives. It’s easy to become diverted during a meeting, especially with entertaining stories. Staying on focus helps you get the work done in the shortest time possible, without losing time on tangents and funny/interesting tales. Keep these stories for breaks and other gatherings!
10). Use minutes from the last meeting: it can be helpful to use the minutes from the last meeting, if you have a recurring that recurs on a regular basis. This ensures that the action points from the last meeting have been achieved, or if not, then can be used for a course reset. Use the minutes to keep your team on the right path and moving forward.
11). Be prepared: make sure that all meeting materials are ready. Will you need a projector? Is your PowerPoint presentation finished and the slides in order? Will any other equipment be necessary? Be sure everything is ready and in order, including any handouts and other materials for attendees. And don’t forget to make sure all equipment is in good working order well ahead of the meeting. It can be embarrassing to be caught unprepared. Not only that, but it can give your clients and others a negative impression of your business if you’re not properly prepared for the meeting.
12). Have the correct number of documents: make sure you have an attendee count and prepare the correct number of documents ahead of the meeting. Nothing is worse than coming up short-handed when it’s time to pass out critical reports and other documents. Try this get this done a day or so ahead of the meeting, in case you have last-minute attendees coming. It’s also not a good idea to get this done only a few minutes before the meeting—you could run into printer problems, etc. Be prepared with the right number of documents well ahead of the meeting.
13). Assign a chair: it’s also a good idea to determine who will lead the meeting. This should also be done well ahead of time, in case the leader needs to be replaced for some reason. Having a leader keeps everyone on course and on topic, while keeping the meeting on time.
14). Don’t forget a note-taker: it’s always a good idea to have someone assigned to take notes or minutes of the meeting. This may be the same person in charge of distributing the agenda and other meeting materials, keeping attendees informed on any changes in schedule, etc. A note-taker usually takes notes during the meeting, and then may create a summary to send out to attendees after the meeting.
15). End with an action plan: the action plan is a great way to ensure attendees will follow up with tasks needed to complete the meeting’s goal. A plan of action is also a great way to discuss next steps, realignment of goals and more. Always close with a clear action plan to help keep your team productive and moving forward.
These are the steps you can take to keep your meeting focused, on course and productive. Remember to have an agenda, a meeting leader, a note-taker and to ensure all equipment is working. Also, keep your meetings short and you’ll have better attendance and better meetings, with positive outcomes for your team and your business.
Now that you’re confident in the strategies that make up a productive meeting, it may be time to find the right environment to host your colleagues and clients. Find out how Wizu can help you with a range of centrally located meeting rooms in Leeds.