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7 Ways To Run More Effective And Proactive Business Meetings

September 10, 2021

It's hard to plan, run, and measure success for your business meetings. Follow these seven tips to improve the quality of your meetings and ensure you're getting the most out of them.

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Ensure Your Business Meetings Are Productive Every Time With These Tips 

No matter the size of your company, business meetings are an integral part of your organization. 

They allow you to communicate with your team members, keep everyone updated, and provide a platform to share ideas as well as brainstorming solutions for pressing problems. 

However, we’ve all been part of a meeting that feels like it could have been an email. Maybe the organizer wasn’t prepared, or the team got off topic early on and never quite made their way back to the main reason for the meeting

Either way, you can see the frustration and disinterest in the faces of the meeting participants. 

Business meetings often fail because they are poorly executed. This means ineffective meetings waste time, money, and energy. However, if done right, a successful meeting is impactful and productive. 

Let’s take a look at what makes a business meeting effective, what to avoid, and seven tips to ensure your next meeting is effective and proactive.

What Does An Effective Meeting Look Like?

No matter the size or scope of your business meeting, the most important thing is that all participants leave the meeting feeling it was an effective use of their time. A bad meeting is unproductive and often feels like they drag on forever, as well as a colossal waste of time. 

A good meeting will be engaging, productive, and effective. However, it can be difficult to determine whether or not your gathering was effective and impactful. Here are some ways to know that a business meeting was effective. 

  • You And Your Team Members Were Engaged And Actively Participating. 
  • The Information Provided Was Accurate And Timely. 
  • Meeting Participants Have A Direction To Achieve Goals And Objectives 
  • Your Team Has Resolved A Challenge Or Problem.

Effective meetings always end on time and hit all items on the agenda. Be sure to give each agenda topic enough time to address the information, but never dwell too long on any one point. 

Let’s take a look at what makes or breaks an effective meeting. 

What Makes Or Breaks Effective Business Meetings

Whether your meeting’s purpose is to communicate with an important vendor or potential investor, you must be strategic about how you approach your business meeting

To be compelling and persuasive, you must not just exchange information. You need to focus on the relationship-building aspects of each business meeting. 

Here are some factors that can make or break your business meeting. 

  • Focus And Clarity: It may be tempting to share everything you know in the meeting, but business meetings aren’t about impressing the participants. Stick to the purpose of the meeting to hit every agenda item. 
  • Preparation And Consistency: Always educate yourself on your meeting attendees. Connecting with their past decisions, interests, and shared goals will allow you to make your meetings more effective consistently. 
  • Compelling Content: Sure, not all business meetings are exciting. But infuse anecdotes to help prove your point. Stories are proven to help increase the retention of information. 
  • Room For Conversation: Sometimes, the best ideas come from the dialogue that occurs during a business meeting. Allow opportunities for two-way conversation that will yield questions and clarification. This will engage your participants and improve buy-in. 
  • Closure: At the end of the meeting, always assert a direct request or plan of action. Whether you need funding, introductions, or tasks completed, never let a chance for support pass you by. 

As you plan your meetings, keep in mind that it’s essential to start small and build a strong foundation to create a long-term, copasetic relationship. 

Two businesspeople with a computer

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Seven Best Practices On Meeting Management

Because meetings are an essential part of the day-to-day operations of any organization, they must be effective and well managed. 

Before you even schedule your business meeting, prepare by asking yourself these three questions: 

  • Why Are We Meeting? 
  • What Are The Actions, Decisions, Or Outcomes I Need From This Meeting? 
  • Is A Dedicated Meeting Necessary? 

Once you’ve answered these critical questions, you can send the meeting invite and begin preparations to ensure your meeting is a success. 

Here are seven best practices for managing business meetings to ensure they are proactive and effective. 

1. Prepare A Meeting Agenda

Having a plan and purpose for your meeting is crucial for its efficacy. Once you have a purpose and goal in mind, write out a simple meeting agenda that you can share ahead of time with all of the meeting participants. 

Your agenda should be specific and to the point. Never be too vague with agenda points such as “project discussion” or “show slideshow.” These are not helpful or specific enough.

Finally, send the agenda out early to allow your meeting attendees to prepare. Use the agenda to keep your meeting on track and focused on your outcome goals. 

2. Be Considerate As You Schedule The Meetings

In many settings, certain meeting times are to be avoided, such as the first or last hour of the day. If you schedule meetings during these times, you run the risk of late-comers and early-leavers. 

Schedule your business meeting time according to your organization’s guidelines. For smaller team meetings, consider offering a choice between days and times to find the best one for all participants. 

Additionally, communicate the type of meeting the attendees can expect and where it will take place. For example, if this meeting involves problem-solving or team building, let the attendees know this in advance and choose a neutral location to prevent participants from feeling territorial. 

3. Include The Right People For The Business Meeting Topic

You may want to include everyone in your meeting invitations, but you run the risk of inviting people who have nothing to do with your meeting agenda. 

These participants will sit with nothing to do or contribute as they think of what they could be accomplishing during this time. This is a drain on their time, energy, and engagement. 

If you are unsure whether a meeting attendee is needed, consider making a quick call or sending a short email to ask if they want or need to be included. They will appreciate the thought. 

People on a meeting

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

4. Start And End On Time 

Time management is crucial when it comes to running effective business meetings. 

While it’s a good idea to allow meeting attendees to talk for a moment or two at the start of the meeting, it’s crucial that your business meeting starts and ends on time. Do your best to set a time limit and avoid going past that marker. 

You can do several things as a meeting facilitator to signal that you are ready to start and end your meeting politely, even if the meeting attendees are still mingling or discussing a topic. 

How to signal the beginning and end of a meeting

Remember that it’s OK to end a meeting early if you’ve already discussed the items on your agenda. 

You can simply share with the meeting attendees that you’ve accomplished the goal earlier than planned and will end the session to allow them to get back to their workday. 

Your coworkers will appreciate this and leave the business meeting feeling happy and satisfied. 

5. Record Notes On Discussions And Action Items

Whether you are running a small business or meeting for a large corporation, every successful meeting includes a person who takes notes. 

Meeting minutes are crucial for recording the events and ideas that took place and providing insight for those who couldn’t make it or arrived late. They should include the action plan, critical decision-making points, and open questions that you did not address. 

You can assign a coworker to take notes or do it yourself live on the screen to keep the conversation focus. It also adds to the collective understanding while offering clarity for meeting outcomes. 

6. Guide The Discussion 

It’s really easy for a discussion to get off-topic. While these sidebars can be valuable, they often are not helpful in the present. 

Be prepared to redirect discussions back to the meeting agenda tactfully. You can record these topics in the meeting notes to ensure you revisit them at a later time. 

You can always offer to schedule another meeting dedicated to addressing these items as you steer the conversation back to the agenda. 

7. Always Follow-Up With Your Team

Quite possibly the easiest step, send out an email to all participants thanking them for joining you. Include specific action plans, follow-up items, as well as meeting notes. 

This is also an excellent time to schedule a follow-up meeting for off-topic items that came up during the discussion to avoid scheduling conflicts in the future. 

Conduct Effective Business Meetings With Your Team Today

Running a successful, effective business meeting is an art, as well as a science. Constantly review and reflect on your meeting performance regularly to ensure you are following best practices and identifying areas for improvement. 

Whether your meeting was in person or done in a virtual setting, ask yourself if you met the goals you set, the ground rules you planned to follow, and what can be improved for your next meeting. 

As you continue to improve your meeting management skills, you will see your business meetings run more smoothly, and the respect between you and your colleagues grows. 

FAQs

What do I need to bring to a networking event? 

You should craft a networking plan, professional attire, and a digital business card to master your next networking meet-up.

How long should an average business meeting last? 

On average, business meetings last between thirty minutes to an hour. 

How do you network when you don’t know anyone? 

Lose the awkwardness and network when you don’t know anyone by preparing relevant topics, exchanging contact information, and challenging yourself to start at least one conversation with a new contact. 

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