Depending on how they are managed and what happens during them, business meetings can either be incredibly useful or an absolute waste of time.
A bad business meeting is a frustrating exercise that everyone dreads. It might be disorganised, pointless, repetitive or not interesting or relevant for most of the participants. Everyone will be tired, bored and annoyed because they have much more important things to do with their time. Employee morale will suffer as a result and the meeting participants will leave just as confused and uninformed as when they arrived, or perhaps even more so.
On the other hand, a good business meeting can be a very valuable experience. It will bring together the right people who all play an important role in the project and it will cover crucial topics in a quick and efficient way. Participants will feel engaged and inspired, ideas will bounce freely around the room and time will fly by. Everyone will leave feeling informed and ready to get started on the next project.
The difference between a good meeting and a bad one
So what are the main differences between an effective meeting and a time-wasting one and how can you ensure that all of your meetings are as successful as possible? First of all, a fresh supply of coffee never hurts. Other than that, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Clearly identify the goal of the meeting from the outset. This helps participants to understand what is being accomplished and will keep the discussion on topic.
- Keep them short. People have limited attention spans and don’t like to sit and do one thing for a very long period of time. When your meetings are too long, people will quickly lose interest. Rather than having a two hour meeting once per week, it’s better to have six short 20 minute meetings throughout the week.
- Encourage everyone to participate. A meeting that consists of only the boss lecturing and pontificating for 45 minutes will make everyone want to fall asleep. To keep everyone paying attention and engaged, go around the table and ask for thoughts, opinions, ideas and feedback from everyone involved.
- Make the meeting room environment comfortable. People will have a difficult time concentrating if they are too cold, too hot or if there is not enough space for everyone to sit comfortably. If you don’t have adequate space in your office, there are many different meeting spaces for rent available out there.
- Send out information in advance. A few days before your meeting, send out any charts, graphs or other important material to anyone who will be involved. This will help them prepare, so that you don’t have to spend meeting time explaining things and can jump right into the important stuff.
- Write the agenda on the wall and stick to it. This way, everyone involved will know what is to be covered in this meeting and in what order so that they can save their questions to the right moment. They will also know when the meeting is coming to an end.
- Incorporate multi-media. Sometimes people understand what you are saying and are more interested in it when you have a photo or a video to illustrate it.
- Estimate a time for the meeting and do your best to stick to it. Remember that all participants are busy and they will have appointments to make and work to do afterward, so going over your estimated time frame cuts into their busy workday.
- Email out a summary after the meeting. Make sure to include any follow up action items and who is responsible for them. This will ensure that nothing is forgotten about.
These are just a few tips that you can keep in mind in order to ensure that every meeting you hold is a valuable and productive use of time.