Business meetings can be an effective tool to bring a team or group of people together to accomplish a common goal. On the other hand, meetings are also commonly notorious for taking away from productivity and often receive a bad rap for being a waste of time. If done well, meetings can prove to be very beneficial but if nothing gets accomplished the meeting can be counterproductive and is not worth being held.
So how do you ensure the meetings you hold are effective? First, meetings should be short, to the point and not recurring more often than what is necessary. If attendees know that the meeting will not drag on, they know there is limited time to accomplish the goal. Keeping meetings to a strict timeline will also promote an “all hands/minds on deck” and help minimize the tangents. Attendees will know the start/end time and should understand that the meeting will begin promptly at the given start time, jumping right into the agenda.
That leads to the next tip for an effective meeting. There needs to be a clear agenda. When the meeting starts promptly at the assigned time, the agenda is followed. The agenda should, but may not always, be made and delivered to the attendees ahead of time. If this isn’t possible, the agenda should be in front of all attendees (whether physically printed or virtually) so they can follow along. The agenda must be followed in order to stay on track. If you have an open-ended or longer meeting with no agenda, it only allows opportunity for attendees to get off topic or have side conversations and nothing will get accomplished.
There needs to be both a goal(s) and accountability. The goal needs to be clear to all attendees and roles should be assigned to create and allow for involvement. Assigning owners to tasks throughout the meeting creates involvement and makes people feel responsible for something. Those that are assigned duties should know that they’ll be held accountable. If the meeting is recurring, follow-up of the past meeting’s assigned tasks should be done so attendees are held accountable. On the other hand, if a meeting is recurring, often, tasks and discussions get pushed off to the next meeting, creating an unproductive meeting. If a decision can be made at that meeting, make the decision.
Lastly, properly close the meeting. Is there anything left that wasn’t covered? Review action-items or assignments and deadlines, identify takeaways as well as anything you want to do differently next meeting to improve the meeting and confirm date/time of the next meeting.