At the same time meetings have developed a bad reputation in recent years, with many attendees dreading the torture of yet another meeting. Many meetings drag on, wasting time when attendees would rather be working on other, seemingly more pressing, tasks.
This negative atmosphere isn’t just draining for the business-owner, it can be downright unproductive. Some staff approach such occasions with a closed mind-set, seeking purely to reach the end as quickly as possible, rather than truly gaining anything from the event.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can make your small business meetings both more enjoyable and more productive.
One key weakness of many business meetings are their rambling nature – even when an agenda has been established.
Many business owners find that consciously limiting the length of meetings and aiming to push through points on a pre-determined time-scale can be far more beneficial. Each point on the agenda should have a time-limit set, with attendees encouraged to work quickly to address each issue within the allotted time.
Not only do such limitations help to make meetings a more regulated and efficient event, but all parties will be aware of just how much time is required before they can carry on with their everyday tasks.
Some business owners even suggest eliminating standard “sit down” meetings in preference of a rapid standing briefing. Sometimes a 15-minute “quick-fire” meeting can be just as beneficial as a wandering hour or two of conversation.
Many of us only have a short attention span. Worse, in higher level meetings your attendees may be worried about what is going on outside.
Consider giving attendees regular breaks to visit the bathroom or check their phones helps to “compartmentalize” these potential distractions and so ensure more focus during important meetings.
For longer meetings the “Pomodoro Technique” can be used, giving a five minute break every half hour, or ten minutes every hour. Under such circumstances it can be far easier to maintain concentration on the task-in-hand, rather than the mind wandering to other tasks.
Listening to one single person for hours on end can tire even the most dedicated attendee.
Therefore, variety should be seen as an integral part of efficient meetings. From the subject matter to the presenters, when considering the meeting agenda it can be wise to consider how the issues may be addressed in an interesting and varied manner, with numerous participants taking an active role.
Ideally aim to engage a number of individuals to keep things fresh, such as delegating the reporting of specific elements to others, or asking each attendee to update the room on their latest results.
Lastly consider the use of refreshments, either during regular short breaks or a lunch-time intermission.
Whether that involves coffee and a bacon sandwich before a breakfast meeting or a more impressive buffet lunch, such a promise helps to make attendees feel more valued (and comfortable).
A growing number of outside business caterers are able to provide food at a pre-arranged time and on a budget that suits you, so the effort required is minimal. The impact, on the other hand, can be noticeable in attendee interest and enjoyment levels.