When preparing for a meeting, consider that you are consuming everyone’s time by asking or requiring them to attend the meeting. You want to make sure that you are as thoroughly prepared as possible to attend the meeting and to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Planning ahead can not only make the meeting run smoothly and more productively, it also avoids wasting people’s time as you are scrambling to get things in order and understand what needs to be accomplished throughout the meeting.
The following are 8 are specific tips that are useful for keeping in mind when you are planning for a productive and successful business meeting:
Consider If A Meeting Is The Best Option
If it’s an issue or topic of discussion between only two or three people, the full-blown production of a meeting may not be the best way to talk through the topic and come up with solutions. If it’s an issue between a couple of people, sending an email or making a phone call may be alternative ways to settle the issue without requiring people to drop everything during their work day to join a meeting.
Invite Only Essential Personnel
Only invite people who have a real stake in the issue(s) or topics that are being discussed at the meeting. Inviting too many “peripheral” people to the meeting who are not deeply affected by what is being discussed and resolved will only complicate the matter and make the meeting drag on longer. It can also waste more personnel hours rather than letting people work on things that are pertinent to their job if they are required to sit through meetings that have little if anything to do with them. If you cannot identify the specific reason the person is attending, then there is a good chance they may not really need to be there after all.
The refreshments don’t have to be exceptionally elaborate, but providing everyone with something to drink and snack on can be all it takes to placate antsy attendees during a meeting. Meetings have the notorious stigma of being something many (not all) attendees dread. Attending meetings is a must in business, but providing something to ensure attendees are not hungry and thirsty (thereby distracted) can help ensure everyone’s attention is on the matters at hand. Provide options for everyone. Having something like coffee and doughnuts is great, or bagels and bottled water. Any combination of things work, but also consider those who are more health-conscious and offering options like fruit may the best for them. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but giving people something to nibble on while the meeting occurs can help satisfy any otherwise hungry or thirsty meeting participants.
Provide An Itinerary To For The Meeting
Have whoever is running the meeting sit down and provide an itinerary to the meeting. This doesn’t have to fancy and can be a few sentences or less than a page in length. This helps you follow each point, cover it, and move on. This basic itinerary can help keep the business meeting on track and keep it moving smoothly from start to finish. This avoids wasting people’s time with chatter that does not pertain to the topic(s) at hand. It also keeps the company’s “personnel hours” spent on meetings down to a reasonable level. Everyone always appreciates knowing what will be talked about and not having any surprises sprung on them.
Provide Memos or Notifications Of Controversial Topics To Be Discussed
If you are going to be discussing controversial changes to company policies or how things work in the company, be sure to send out a notice to attendees ahead of time. Avoid “surprising” attendees with news that they will not like when they turn up for the business meeting. Shocking people during a meeting will possibly cause emotions to spill over, which results in complete chaos in the meeting room. This can cause the meeting to run longer and causes everyone to lose focus on the point of the meeting in the first place. Little will get done that is productive if everyone is worked up and frenzied about a situation. Warning ahead of time can allow people to get their initial emotions out (positive or negative) and allow everyone to meet and discuss the issue as calm, civilized grownups.
Keep Meetings To A Reasonable Length
We live in a generation of shortened attention spans, which means very few people do well sitting through a 3 or 4 hour meeting. Even adults don’t want these meetings to last all day long. Keeping the meetings reasonable to a 30 to 60 minute time frame helps keep everyone’s attention on the matters at hand and keeps everyone from feeling overloaded with information. If the set length of time is not enough, schedule additional meetings to finish covering matters in the near future.
Address Concerns Individually
If attendees have a concern about how something discussed in the business meeting will affect them personally and specifically, offer to meet with or discuss it with them personally. Nothing makes a meeting too long like allowing every individual to discuss their personal concerns out loud in front of a group. While general questions may be appropriate to provide information that more than one person may need to know, if it’s an individual issue or question, addressing this one on one is the appropriate way to handle it. This also keeps other attendees from getting disgusted listening to everyone’s problems, especially ones that don’t pertain to them.
Be Open To Feedback
Same as the individual concerns, encourage individual employee feedback in both constructive and positive manners after the meeting. What could be done better? What went well? Could things be organized better? Was information clear and useful to the employees? Allowing feedback can help you make meetings more constructive and positive experiences in the future.
While meetings are something most people will never come to love, these are just a few tips that can help your meetings be better organized and ensure that everyone gets the most out of organized, productive meetings as possible. A little bit of planning beforehand can go a long way in keeping meetings orderly and productive, rather than chaotic and a waste of time, not only for the people running the business meeting but those attending as well.