Tips to Conduct Effective Meetings
Irrespective of which industry you belong to, meetings are an inevitable aspect that you cannot overlook. On a regular basis, meetings are conducted to introduce a new structure, solve an issue, start a new project, etc. Meetings help businesses accomplish various objectives and facilitate an organised communicational approach. The following are some reasons why it is important to conduct meetings in an organisation:
An Effective Communication Approach
Considering the competitiveness of the present business realm, effective personal communication has become imperative for business. While companies have the convenience of harnessing technology to generate communication, meetings still hold a lot of importance. Personal interactions facilitate better communication that is vital in making important business decisions. Meetings are the best places to initiate negotiations and compromise debates between internal teams or clients. Meetings are also a powerful tool for businesses to connect with new clients and expand their networks.
Effective Meetings Keep Everyone on Track
Along with reinforcing the internal bond and work relationships between employees, meetings also ensure that everyone stays on the same page. When a new project starts, a briefing meeting is conducted in order to delegate tasks and assign responsibilities to the team members. This creates an organised working environment where everyone understands their roles. Furthermore, regular meetings are important to monitor work progress. The team stays updated on how the project is going and what is needed to be done. Furthermore, this is where team members can put forward the issues they are dealing with and gain viable solutions, and, if there are any changes, managers can call a meeting to inform and ensure team members understand.
Better Decision Making
One of the important reasons to conduct a meeting is that it allows companies to make mutually-benefiting decisions. This becomes especially helpful during crucial matters that need thorough discussion and brainstorming. People have the opportunity to present their opinions, discuss the pros and cons of each solution, and together come up with a viable solution that aligns with the company’s objectives. You will not be able to derive such effectiveness from email conversations or Skype chats.
Steps to Plan Effective Meetings
Meetings are an important aspect of the business world that can offer a wide range of benefits; however, despite the advantages, meetings are often dreaded by people as they take up a lot of time. Most of the time, people are distracted and wondering why they are even there in the first place. However, when planned effectively, a meeting is a potent tool that can help companies establish better business strategies. It can help companies understand their employees’ perspectives, gain many valuable insights, and extend viable solutions. While meetings are often disappointing to people, you can plan effective meetings that can interest them and stimulate better participation. Below, we have highlighted some interesting tips to plan effective meetings for your business:
Set a Clear Objective
When planning effective meetings, ensure that you keep your objectives specific and well-defined. Before you send the email across to the employees, ask yourself what you plan to accomplish with this meeting. Are you offering a new solution or looking for inputs with regards to a specific problem? It is important to get clear answers to these questions to make your meetings successful. When you plan a meeting without a purpose, you are likely to waste your and your team’s time and end up with no end result.
Invite the Right People
Depending on the purpose of your meeting, only invite relevant people. If you are addressing a specific problem associated with a particular aspect of a department, it is better to include only the associated team members. However, if you are looking for input, you can have a bigger crowd. The different viewpoints will help you gain valuable insight, thereby creating better solutions.
Create a Schedule and Stick to It
Once you have an objective in mind, create a comprehensive schedule for your meeting. Under this schedule, you should highlight what topics to cover and how much time each member will be allotted. Email the schedule in advance, so that everyone is on the same page. On the day of the meeting, place the schedule on the screen or whiteboard to ensure people remain focused.
Establish a Standard Meeting Protocol
Follow a standard meeting protocol to ensure that you plan effective meetings time and again. Start your meetings on time and, unless it is important, don’t repeat everything for people arriving late. Use a whiteboard to highlight important issues that are raised during the meeting to discuss later. This will help you stay on track. Under your protocol, consider adding rules, such as staying on the underlying topic or issues, don’t interrupt, keep it short, etc. It is not about rushing through the meeting; it is about focusing on what’s important and using every minute productively.
Don’t Exceed Your Timeline
While it is common to run over your timeline when you are having a discussion, try to stick to the timeline you have set. You can also appoint a timekeeper if you are discussing an issue or topic that can give rise to lengthy debates. He or she will notify you if you are running behind schedule, and important issues have not been discussed yet. This will ensure that you get straight to the point and wrap up the meeting in a timely manner. Furthermore, if you think some issues can be resolved outside the boardroom, suggest taking it outside and later email the report to other team members.
Give People the Option to Bow Out
People who are not interested in joining the meeting should be given the option to opt out. Effective meetings should be a positive environment to discuss and present opinions. They shouldn’t make your team feel imprisoned. If you make a meeting compulsory, the uninterested will not be productive and might sabotage the outcome. Once you have planned the meeting, identify the people who are relevant to the meeting objective. If you only need an individual for a particular part of the meeting, grant him or her the option to arrive late or leave early.
Don’t Permit Technology
People are often seen playing on their smartphones during meetings. They are distracted, and consequently fail to provide genuine ideas or opinions. In order to ensure that everyone stays focused, and provides an honest opinion, ban smartphones from the meeting room. This way, they will have no other option but to concentrate on what others are saying and participate genuinely. This is one of the best tips to plan effective meetings where there are no distractions.
Be Creative with Your Presentation
Boring presentation is one of the reasons why people dread the whole idea of meeting. Take a creative approach toward how you present your ideas. If you are going to lecture people or read all the slides of a PowerPoint, people are naturally going to be distracted and bored. Don’t lecture; discuss it with your team. Moreover, focus on salient points, use anecdotes, and highlight the consequences. The more you stimulate discussion, the more you will be able to create productive and effective meetings.
Stay in Control
While it is important to promote discussions in meetings, there is a risk of things getting out of control, so you should be prepared to handle heated arguments during the meeting and provide unbiased solutions. If things begin to heat up, try to calm both parties, recap their sides and ensure that everyone is understood. Present solutions that benefit both sides. As a leader, it is your responsibility to cut through the debate and bring the meeting back on track.
To plan effective meetings, you need to follow up with your team. By the end of the meeting, people might have different interpretations. In order to eliminate any confusion, email a detailed memo stating what has been accomplished in the meeting. It should highlight the roles and responsibilities given to people. If there are certain deadlines that need to be followed, mention that as well. Following up after a meeting is important to ensure that everyone stays on the same page.
Meetings are an extremely important and powerful tool; it is a matter of taking the necessary steps to plan effective meetings that benefit both employees and the company alike.