I’m going to share some tips for successful business meetings. You may think you will not need it in your chosen career, but you never know when the responsibility may just fall unexpectedly in your lap. And in every kind of business and industry, there is very rarely ever any formal instruction of how to run a meeting, even in those that have extensive instructional and training programs. Here are the best tips for successful business meetings that always work for me.
1. Have an Agenda
Having an appropriate agenda is probably the most important of all tips for successful business meetings. An agenda is a list of topics that you want covered during a meeting and it gives direction to the meeting. The agenda should be distributed in advance to allow the meeting participants to come prepared, do their own research and think of any questions they may want to ask.
2. Advance Notice
Many people can be caught off-guard when sudden meetings are announced. Such urgency may also induce nervousness in those individuals who are presenting something during the meeting. An advance warning will also help other individuals come prepared and take an active part in the meeting. Make sure you receive notification that everyone will attend too. Organizing in advance helps you iron out any schedule clashes or identify key people who can’t attend (which may mean rescheduling).
3. Keep to Time
Start and end on time. We all have gone through those terrible meetings that seem to go on without any end in sight. If that is what you would do in your business meeting, forget about making it a real success. Extending the duration is not the right thing to do; most of your audience will have already planned what they intend to do after the meeting. In this world where life moves at a fast pace, every one of us has something to do. An added advantage of sticking to your scheduled plan is that everyone will stay focused on the discussions, will not be bothered about when they’ll be allowed to leave and will concentrate on taking an active part in the meeting. Starting and ending on time is one of the best tips for successful business meetings.
4. Maintain the Focus
When meetings veer off the agenda/off topic, it can be hard to bring them back on track. As a result, there is not enough time to discuss the important points of the meeting and so the meeting fails to achieve its goals. The best thing to do when meetings are drifting off track is to speak up and ask the participants politely to get back to business.
5. Capture and Assign Actions
Some meetings are held purely to convey information or announce some small changes. At other times, your meetings will result in a need for action where duties will have to be assigned to different individuals. Even if everyone is taking notes, there should be one individual responsible for to taking a formal record (minutes), including any actions decided and who will take responsibility for said actions. These minutes are then communicated to all relevant parties after the meeting, leaving no-one in any doubt of what they need to do.
Yes, you have to stick to the agenda, but you also need to keep the goal of the meeting in mind. Some items might be able to be pushed into A.O.B. (Any Other Business) at the end of the meeting, other times the issue is too important. As the holder of the meeting it is your call to decide. It might mean that you have to call another meeting or refocus the current one. Always have an eye on the meeting’s goals, whatever you decide.
At the end of the meeting, politely thank everyone for participating and confirm the location and time of the next meeting if needed/known/decided – or at least confirm when the minutes will be circulated.
People like to know their precious time isn’t going to be wasted in badly organized/poorly conducted meetings. Follow these tips for running business meetings and you won’t be wasting anyone’s time. How are your meetings at work? Does a lot of your time get wasted?