As a business leader, meeting with peers to exchange ideas and make plans is 1 of the more important parts of your job. Left unchecked, however, a meeting can spiral out of control. Resultantly, you must take steps to make sure that your meetings are as productive as possible.
Often, meetings can become ineffective and intolerable. Fortunately, however, you can keep your meetings on track with effective planning.
Here are 6 tips to help you run a productive meeting:
1. Commit the agenda to writing
Meetings with a broad, vague objective rarely produce positive, tangible outcomes. If you’ve never written an agenda, there’s no need to make it a complicated task. Simply type a list of topics for distribution. In time, you’ll add features to your agenda as the need arises. Tools like Minute are a great resource to keep the before, during and after meeting information in 1 place and shared across meeting attendees.
Make sure to provide attendees with the agenda at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Also, include a brief synopsis of why you’re holding the meeting to help better prepare attendees.
As an aside, this goes both ways. If you receive an invitation to a meeting, make sure that the host sends you an agenda so that you can make a positive contribution.
2. Don't skimp on technology
It seems like today’s entrepreneurs can run a business using a carefully selected combination of free technology. However, if you've ever used a free technological resource, you'll quickly find that it’s quite limited.
Instead of risking your professional reputation by using freemium technology products, invest in a cost-effective subscription service. Technology providers have subscription plans that bring cutting-edge innovation within reach of any size organization.
For example, if you’re meeting with staff members dispersed across locations, video conferencing platforms like 8x8 are crucial for effective communication. By investing in commercial-grade technology, you'll ensure that stakeholders clearly understand critical points, potentially saving your organization thousands of dollars in losses due to miscommunication.
3. Review the attendee list
Attendees can make or break your meeting. Before you start, make sure that essential decision makers have arrived.
It’s especially important to make sure that critical decision makers attend meetings. If they don’t, you’ll have wasted your time as well as that of your peers.
It’s just as essential to limit the number of meeting attendees. Meetings aren’t just for sharing information, they’re for accomplishing work. Therefore, you should only invite organizational stakeholders who are relevant to the planned agenda.
Also, check meeting attendance aloud. If there’s someone present at the meeting who’s not on the list, acknowledge their presence so that you can establish how they will contribute to the meeting.
4. Deliver a briefing for important decisions
Sometimes, you’ll need to host a meeting that involves the discussion of a mission-critical decision. It may significantly affect the future of your enterprise. In this case, it’s good practice to inform attendees about the importance of the meeting in advance.
For important meetings, it's a good idea to talk to decision makers face-to-face about the gathering. This practice may take more time, but it will increase your chances of hosting a successful meeting and prevent you from springing an unpleasant surprise on attendees.
5. Stay on topic
One of the bigger problems that arise during meetings is keeping the discussion focused on the matter at hand. In a team environment, people have a lot of things that they’d like to discuss. However, you must make sure that meetings stay focused so that you can resolve 1 issue before moving to the next.
By allowing an open floor where personnel can speak freely, you'll most likely touch on a range of critical topics, but you'll never resolve anything. By focusing intensely on the matter at hand, you can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your meetings.
6. Establish accountability
Meetings are an effective way to relay essential concepts to internal stakeholders. However, there’s no point in doing so if stakeholders don't act using the information that results.
Meetings consist of significant items that fall outside the scope of day-to-day business. However, a whirlwind of day-to-day activity can make it easy to forget about following up on meeting action items.
By holding attendees accountable for specific tasks, you can ensure that your meetings have a purpose and produce results. Furthermore, you can make sure that you don't end up burdened with work that others promised to complete during a meeting.
Meetings are a vital tool for all business leaders. However, many executives fail to ensure that meetings are concise, productive and valuable. By following a few simple tips to make the most of meetings, you can boost morale and organizational performance.