Depending on personal experience, meetings can either be seen as time-consuming black holes, or the source of great value and insights. Unfortunately, the former is all the more common, with employees often loathing the weekly or even daily business meeting, and the meeting leader feeling not too dissimilar—frustrated with not accomplishing set goals or targets.

With that in mind, we have put together a set of practical ways you can make your meetings more effective, to ultimately change how they are perceived in your organisation.

planning poker warm up by fsse8info, on Flickrby fsse8info

Planning the Outcome

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘fail to prepare, and prepare to fail’, and in the case of business meetings, this couldn’t be more true. Gathering a group of employees for a discussion can often raise a number of additional problems and lead the meeting down various tangents—safeguard against this by asking yourself the following questions before the meeting:

  • What is the one thing I want to resolve or accomplish by the end of the meeting?
  • What are the main reasons for calling the meeting?
  • What does the ideal outcome look like?

Translate your answers into a plan of action for the meeting. Think about how you are going to present the information and direct its flow, and try to avoid any jargon or unclear messages that could potentially limit understanding. Then clearly define the details of your objectives using the SMART criteria, stamp a running time on the meeting, and wrap the whole thing up in a memo to circulate to attendees. This will allow employees to mentally prepare for the meeting, help prevent any associated anxiety, and reduce uncertainties that could cause delays.

Meeting by ibm4381, on Flickr
by ibm4381

Conducting the meeting

Conducting a successful meeting is an art in itself. But with the right amount of planning and a good knowledge of a few key principles, it can be easily mastered.

Use Direct Questions

Although open-ended questions are great for spurring discussions and uncovering issues, too much ambiguity can allow attendees to drift off point. Therefore use concise, close-ended questions to get to the point and quickly attain the answer you need, and if the topic goes adrift, politely revert back to the question in hand.

Create the Right Atmosphere

Shaping the environment and atmosphere is a great way to unconsciously facilitate discussions. If attendees feel comfortable, they are more likely to express their opinions and encourage the progression of the meeting. However, it’s possible to make attendees feel too comfortable, so be sure to maintain the balance.

Stick Around

Investing just a little time in addressing the concerns or questions of attendees at the end of a meeting can go a long way. It can clarify any points of uncertainty and also provide pointers for improving future meetings. The best way to gain specific, tailored advice is by asking attendees what you can do to further improve presentations and encourage participation.

Follow these steps and you will soon be seeing your business meetings become that powerful source of value they should be.

Header image credit: Pink Floyd Music Ltd.

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