How many of us hate the mandatory Monday morning meeting? Everyone! Why? Because most meetings are exhausting, unproductive, and takes time out of everyone’s already busy schedule. According to a study cited by Harvard Business Review in their article “Stop the Meeting Madness,” about 71% of senior leaders claim that business meetings are inefficient and unproductive. That is because you are probably running these meetings in the old-fashioned way where you open a meeting, close it, and everyone is on their way. The goal of business meetings should be to bring talented individuals together for their unique contribution or set the spirits right for everyone and to establish a course of action. If you wish to achieve these goals in your meetings without everyone yawning, then try the following elements for running a smooth business meeting.
- Build An Effective Meeting Agenda
Let’s face it. If you are running a meeting on a hunch and it is stretching like a wormhole, then you are probably missing the most important element; why did you call a meeting? What’s the point? More importantly, what is the agenda of the meeting? Before calling everyone into a soul-sucking experience that is business meetings, you must establish the purpose of this corporate gathering, and it better be something important. You must have clear objectives before establishing a meeting agenda.
Deciding beforehand about what you need to accomplish in this meeting becomes even more crucial when you are collaborating virtually. Ensuring that a video meeting goes smoothly should also be part of the meeting agenda. For instance, you can think about using advanced tools like Logitech ConferenceCam, which offers an extremely immersive collaborative experience with superb clarity. After preparing an undisruptive meeting environment, work on the agenda by making a list of topics that need addressing in order of priority.
- Invite People Who Can Offer Unique Perspectives
Once you’ve established a detailed meeting agenda, it is now time to gather people. However, you must ponder over the invites you’ll be sending out because you don’t need to fit the entire office in business meetings. If you want the meetings to run smoothly and yield actual results, then chop down the long list of participants and invest your time in those who can make profitable contributions. The participants of the meeting should have a role that coincides with the meeting agenda. If the point of the meeting is to give out orders, then all team leaders should attend. If the session is about brainstorming or contributing ideas, invite people who know how to do that.
- Set A Realistic Schedule That Is Flexible For Everyone
Setting the schedule for the meeting is very crucial. Time is money in organizations. Thus, choosing the right time and appropriate length of the meeting is very important. Firstly, you need to set a realistic schedule that works for all the attendees and does not affect their work. For instance, never schedule a meeting during someone’s lunch break or peak working hours. You can set a time and date when everyone’s likely to have less workload, just like on a Friday afternoon or after 3pm on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
According to popular opinion, Monday mornings are the worst time for setting up a meeting or anytime close to 5pm. For meetings to go smoothly, all the participants need to be fresh, focused, and energized. Therefore, manage the schedule and length of the meeting according to how efficiently you want the meeting to go. Also, allot a certain length of time to each topic on the meeting agenda and try not to exceed it. Follow a rule of thumb where 15 to 20 minutes is the ideal time for regular meetings, 40 minutes to an hour for brainstorming sessions, 60 to 90 minutes for strategy meetings, and so on.
- Find Ways To Increase Participation
The hardest part of running a painless meeting is to keep the participants engaged. There is nothing worse than talking to a bunch of people who find looking at the ceiling more interesting than your speech. Therefore, focus on the elements in the meeting which you can use to keep everyone engaged. For instance, ban phones and laptops in the meeting so that no one is tempted to stray away from the topic. Encourage writing down notes on paper, so the attendees are left no choice but to listen carefully.
If the meeting is long, ensure that you have planned out activities to keep the meeting rolling and put special focus on collaboration. Allow the attendees to participate and contribute so that they can naturally feel involved. You can even plan small breaks in between painstakingly long meetings and allow everyone to process the information collaboratively.
- Don’t Forget To Follow Up
How would you know that the meeting was productive and smooth if you didn’t follow up with your fellow attendees? A follow-up plan and feedback are very important if you don’t want to waste your and everyone else’s time conducting inefficient meetings. The follow-up can either be a summarized email of the meeting agenda, a short phone call, or simply a general feedback form. You must encourage the participants to give honest feedback regardless of who conducted the meeting. Ask important questions like, did the meeting add value to the business? Did it yield the desired results? Did the attendees contribute something valuable to the agenda? Are the attendees looking forward to the next meeting? Not just for evaluation but also to follow up to see that things got done. Also, assign someone particular to record meeting minutes so that they can be turned into a valuable course of action for the participants.
Meetings are boring; that’s the consensus, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t change. It’s possible to have a productive and yet enjoyable business meeting now and then, which can give you desirable results. To run a smooth business meeting, you must have a solid agenda, clear instructions, the right people in the room, effective tools, and an attitude that makes the attendees feel inspired and included. You need to prepare for a concise meeting that doesn’t take up much time and doesn’t leave people drained of energy.