The Art of Running an Awesome Meeting – Tips on Running Successful Business Meetings
Have you ever attended a meeting that accomplished absolutely nothing in the end? Or a meeting that turned into a squabble or a finger pointing exercise, or got derailed at the beginning so another had to be scheduled to address what was on the agenda on that particular one? I have, more than once. The end result is usually the group’s complete dissatisfaction with the outcomes of the meeting and a growing, nagging feeling that most meetings accomplish absolutely nothing.
This pervasive opinion is so widespread that most business people consider meetings to be a number one productivity killer. That is a really ugly statistic that shows that most companies have a lot to learn on how to hold effective meetings. Some of the blame falls on corporate policies; they need to instruct people on how to hold meetings that move the work forward, and not backward. But the bulk of the blame is on business people themselves. Meeting etiquette is something we acquire and learn along the way, and in today’s business world it is very important to know how to organize an effective meeting.
Running a successful meeting requires planning and preparation, getting everyone on board, and knowing how to move it along in the direction you need it to go. Here are some tips that will help you do just that.
- Make sure you actually need a meeting
Consider if the point you are raising could be addressed through an email or a memo. There is no point in organizing a meeting if there is nothing to meet about; meetings are not, and should not be used as socializing events. They are time-consuming and cost you money, so think twice before you hold one. Plus, unnecessary meetings reinforce the notion that all meetings are a waste of time, and you do not want to do that.
- Prepare, prepare, and prepare some more
Don’t rush into a meeting blindly. Having a fuzzy idea of what the meeting would address is really not good enough. If you are the organizer, prepare meeting materials well in advance and send them out to people you invited at least 72 hours before you are set to meet. This will give them a chance to go through everything, and maybe even brainstorm a little with other attendees. If you were invited to a meeting, respond promptly and politely ask for the pre-meeting materials so you can get a chance to prepare yourself.
- Don’t invite people willy-nilly
I’m sure you’ve all sat through hours and hours of meetings wondering why the heck you were invited in the first place. People tend to organize meetings and invite everyone from the company – and their grandmothers as well. If you have to call someone to a meeting because you need them in your corner, but they are not crucial to the meeting itself, communicate that with them. Let them now you need them there for support, and that you would love it if they expressed their support of your ideas. Don’t waste their time by letting them sit there like a piece of dead wood.
- Limit the time
By limiting how long the meeting will last, you are communicating that coming unprepared is not an option. This is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone will contribute to the meeting. One-hour meetings are a lot more productive than meetings that just go on and on. Starting on time and ending on time is also important. This tells the attendees that you respect their schedules and the time they set aside to come to the meeting.
- Have an agenda and stick to it
Write up the agenda for the meeting and distribute it along with pre-meeting materials. Also, have it up on the wall or on a whiteboard in the meeting room. Make sure to stick to it; this keeps things moving along. If someone needs additional clarification, schedule a private meeting with them.
- Importance of meeting minutes
Make sure someone is jotting down everything that is said on the meeting. Points raised, goals set, deadlines agreed on; by keeping track of this you will know who took responsibility for what. Send the meeting minutes to all attendees as soon as possible. This will remind them about their responsibilities and encourage them to start working as soon as possible.
- Follow up with the attendees
Points you raised during the meeting are very important to you; but are you sure that they are as important to other people? Before the next scheduled meeting make sure to follow up with everyone who has a job to do. A gentle inquiry about how things are progressing will tell people that you expect assignments to be completed, and remind them to get cracking if they haven’t already.
Effective meetings can help you achieve wonders. Less effective ones will waste your time. Know the difference between a good and a bad meeting, and take steps to ensure that all meetings you organize are top notch!
Being a tutor, Amy Cowen has a great experience of work with students – from providing assignment help at Aussiewriter to giving career advice.