Top tips for Productive Business Meetings

You have probably attended at least a few in your lifetime. Those boring, brain-numbing time-wasting meetings that drone on forever. The meetings where nobody ever seems to get to the point and most people leave wondering why they were even present.

Well, you have to admit that meetings are sometimes a necessary evil.  They play an important part in planning, preparing, communicating, influencing and concluding business. So, how can you ensure they create great results?

Having an effective, productive meeting that leaves you energised and satisfied that you’ve really accomplished your goal is not that difficult. Here are six top tips to get the most out of your meetings.

1. Avoid a meeting if an email or quick call can achieve your goals.

Some people love to have meetings for the sake of having them. These are usually the bad meetings that leave you feeling irritated because your time is being wasted, and frustrated because they rarely achieve anything.

2. If a meeting is essential, identify a clear objective and outcome.

The worst thing you can do is set up a meeting with the intention of just getting people together simply because you “always have a weekly meeting”.  Trust me, I’ve seen this happen many times in large corporate or public sector organisations.

Make sure you maintain strategic focus. Take care to have clear objectives, goals or outcomes for the meeting. What needs to happen? Do you want a decision, generate new ideas, get status updates on a project, communicate an important business development or make plans for a specific task? Set the agenda accordingly.

3. Only invite people that need to be there.

Ever attended one of those interminable meetings where everyone remotely related to the discussion topic attends? The kind where most sit twiddling their thumbs or doodling on their notepads while they wait to contribute to the 5% of the discussion that actually involves them? I do not want to offend anyone, but this is typical of the more traditional public sector units where everybody wants to be consulted. Well, unless you are dealing with organised labour and the unions, don’t include those with nothing to contribute or no interest in what’s being discussed!

4. Preparation is Key!

Establish beforehand what the attendees need to know in order to make the most of the meeting and also what input or role you expect them to assume so they can prepare sufficiently.

If the meeting revolves around solving a problem, ask everyone to come prepared with feasible suggestions or solutions. If it’s an ongoing project you’re discussing, ask each person to compile a progress report and circulate it among the rest of the group.

5. Limit the meeting duration.

People generally stop paying attention after 20-30 minutes, so keep a meeting short and sharp. That way, people are more likely to stay focused and less likely to discuss non-topic related issues.  Another way to enforce focussed meetings is to do them standing up – no comfy seats to create complacency…

Maximise the productivity value of the meeting by insisting that everyone respects the starting time and refrains from bringing cell phones to the venue.

6. Stay on track

If you are leading or chairing the meeting, briefly summarise what was said after each agenda item, and ask people to confirm that your summary is fair. Make concise notes of items that require further discussion or follow-up. Get clear agreements, actions, responsibilities and timeframes (who needs to do what by when).

Conclude a meeting by quickly summarising next steps and inform everyone if there is going to be a meeting summary. A meeting summary often gets overlooked, yet it is a crucial part as it records what was accomplished and who is responsible for what as the team moves forward.

Your Professional Challenge:

Productive meetings need structure and order. Review the tips in this article and then compare them to your own approach. Assess honestly where you can improve and commit to using a more structured guideline to assist you in future.

With these tools – solid objectives, a well planned agenda and involving the right people to attend, you’re on the way to more efficient and successful meetings!

Article supplied by: Gina Mostert, Business Strategist, Consultant & Coach

About the Author: Gina works executives, business leaders and companies in the services sector, helping them to think, plan and lead more strategically

Linksinfo@inovizion.co.za or www.inovizion.co.za

 

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