In today’s day and time, running a business is nothing less than a challenge. Employees must look after operations, finances, recruitment, marketing campaigns, and more. At the same time, they have to allocate resources to ensure optimal efficiency levels.
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The entire management must stay abreast of things happening in the business. For that, you have to incorporate business meetings into the routine schedule. These meetings are an inevitable part of working life. It allows the team to discuss pressing issues, projects, and plans in real-time, opening doors for practical discussions. Inviting different opinions to the table can also help generate new ideas for the business.
However, meetings can also be challenging. Sometimes, people arrive on time, yet the meeting starts late. Sometimes, the agenda isn’t clear, different people are arguing over things, and the host cannot manage. Such meetings do more damage than good for a business. Therefore, you must learn a few rules to run an effective meeting. To help you out, we have listed six tips to carry out a business meeting successfully.
1. Set the Right Atmosphere
As a business owner or manager, you must set the right tone for meetings. It is up to you whether you want the meetings to be formal or informal. Likewise, decide if you want to have real-time or virtual meetings. You must create a link for virtual meetings and share it with everyone at least a day before.
Similarly, you must book conference or meeting rooms with ample space to conduct in-person meetings. Either way, you must create an atmosphere of mutual respect where participants can share their ideas and opinions without hesitation.
Moreover, consider changing the atmosphere whenever it seems possible. Most meetings are formal and seem like a tedious affair for employees. To counter that, you may go outdoors for a meeting to lighten the atmosphere. Otherwise, you can have informal discussions weekly to make the sessions look less formal and achieve the purpose while letting the employees lighten up.
2. Set a Meeting Agenda
Setting a plan might sound like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Different people bring up different topics, deviating from the meeting purpose. It is crucial to set a meeting agenda. You can summarize that on a handout or write it down on the whiteboard so everyone knows why they have gathered. It could be to discuss new product ideas, identify a problem, overcome an obstacle, or anything happening in the business.
Once the meeting purpose is clear, create a list of topics you want to discuss. Assign a specific duration to each subject to avoid extending the meeting. Send the meeting schedule to every attendee beforehand so everyone can prepare. Remember, setting an agenda provides a compass for the conversation. It ensures the meeting gets back on track whenever the discussion wanders off course.
3. Watch the Clock
Employees leave their routine tasks to participate in these meetings; hence, they don’t like to be kept waiting. Therefore, set a firm time to begin your meeting without any delays. Instead of waiting for people to join, ensure all attendees are five minutes early to start on time. Likewise, keep the pace of the meeting on track and end on time rather than dragging it.
Furthermore, pick the right time for the meeting. Mostly Mondays and Fridays are the busiest so avoid picking these days. Beware of an appropriate time to hold a specific session. You can always check with your team to find the best time to schedule a meeting.
4. Direct the Discussion
Often, the meeting discussions wander off topic. One thing leads to another, which means participants can deviate from the subject. Directing the conversation to the appropriate topic or agenda during business meetings is essential. However, the question remains, “how?”
Firstly, you can pick a few sentences from your notes as a discussion item or ask a related question. Likewise, if the topic seems exciting or valuable, suggest scheduling a separate meeting to discuss the idea further. Otherwise, you can state that the conversation is going off-topic and that you want to steer it back to the plan. You might hesitate in such situations, but it is always best to speak up to lead the meeting successfully.
5. Take Notes & Circulate Minutes
No matter how attentive you are in a meeting, taking notes and staying on top of all takeaways is essential. These could be discussion points, insights into upcoming projects, or open questions. Having these pointers in writing will go a long way in remembering things. Based on this, you can plan tasks and deliver projects.
As the meeting’s host, you can assign someone for this task and ensure they pen down every crucial decision and discussion. Later, circulate these meeting minutes so everyone knows what happened at the meeting. It will ensure that all employees are on the same page and no one misinterprets what was said at the meeting. Having a detailed record will also improve credibility, removing the likelihood of mistakes and setbacks.
6. End with an Action Plan
Managers often leave a list of things to wrap up before the meeting ends, but that’s not the right approach. You must leave the last few minutes of the meeting to discuss the next steps. The discussion should revolve around who is responsible for what. Likewise, give an insight into the deadlines so employees know they have targets to achieve.
Most importantly, end meetings positively so that employees feel motivated. Maybe, tell them about an upcoming deal or the last client you secured. Happy and positive news boosts morale and encourages them to work harder towards the business goals.
Conducting a meeting effectively is nothing less than an art and a science. You must ensure participants are active and putting forward their views. Likewise, setting a plan is another crucial task. It helps people understand what to expect from the meeting. All in all, your session can be successful if it achieves the desired goal. Hence, direct the discussion, welcome different viewpoints, and end it with an action plan.