Here’s my basic guide on running a business meeting, complete with dos and don’ts.
Phones are not permitted in meetings.
Don’t offer your employees an excuse not to pay attention during a meeting. Insist that phones and computers be turned off or put to the side at the start of each meeting. Consider having simple notes/bullet points prepared for each meeting – if people want to take notes on their computers, remind them they can examine yours after the meeting or they can take their own notes using pen and paper.
People these days are far too distracted by their electronics, and a meeting should be a place where we can all switch off our phones and concentrate on the talk. Even when people are completely concentrated, a text or email notification can easily divert their train of thought. You should also teach your employees that ignoring someone because they are on the phone or using a computer is unpleasant and obnoxious, and will be off-putting in any future business setting.
Invite Only a Few People to Your Meeting
People are frequently distracted at meetings since their presence is not required. When planning a gathering, don’t invite individuals just for the sake of being included. If the meeting is to address a major company change, everyone should be invited. Otherwise, only include the most essential employees.
Invite anyone who can bring value to the discussion or the broader plan to a meeting to discuss marketing strategy. An employee who has some fantastic conceptual ideas but no marketing experience could contribute to the overall strategy meetings — they don’t need to attend the marketing-specific meetings. You can readily identify the attendee list as long as the meetings have a specified goal and organisation.
Determine the Meeting’s Type
After you’ve made that decision, you’ll need to decide what kind of meeting you’ll host. Let’s have a look at the different types of meetings available:
• Brainstorming – One of the least structured sorts of meetings is brainstorming. Basically, you’ll need a few bullet points (categories/themes) to address, and then you’ll just need to let folks bounce ideas off one other within those limitations. While it’s crucial not to inhibit creativity, try to keep everyone focused on the main themes — these meetings may quickly go out of hand. Ask a couple of questions in the email/calendar invite to inspire pre-meeting brainstorming if you want folks to come up with some fantastic ideas.
• Information dissemination – These meetings are what most people equate with the term “meeting” in terms of commonality. You’re merely trying to get information to your team, either from yourself or from someone who has been assigned to lead the meeting. The meeting should have a defined objective, and the reason for it should be addressed at the opening phase. Then get directly to the point and concentrate on the information.
• Winning-team, spirit-boosting meetings — Not all meetings need to be carefully organised; some are designed to be enjoyable and informal, as you’re informing your employees about an individual’s or a specific team’s triumphs. However, these meetings should be more than just celebratory; you should create bullet points to thank the staff, explain how their accomplishment helped the firm, and what lessons can be learned from their success.
• Coordination – These are usually brief sessions designed to have everyone on the same page. Prior to the meeting, I would usually email out the essentials and then go over them as a group to see if anyone had any questions. These are usually broad in scope, with an organisational rather than conceptual goal.
• Problem-solving meetings — These meetings can be held on a more ad hoc basis with less notice. If you notice a serious problem or trend, identify it, call a meeting, and gather the troops.
• Setting the tone — You may need to establish the tone for your week, month, or quarter at times. These meetings should be organised ahead of time and should occur on a regular basis. Employees should know what to expect from these meetings because they should be identical every time. Essentially, they are discussions about “where we are now, where I want us to go, and how we’re going to get there together.” An executive would lead this meeting, which would be useful and inspirational for employees.
• Integration – These sessions take place when a new programme, process, or individual needs to be integrated. The format of these would be very straightforward, since you would cover what the change is, who/what it will affect, and why the change is being made.
Have an agenda prepared for your meeting.
Set a basic agenda and some talking points to start with once you’ve decided on the type of meeting. You don’t want to over-structure the meeting, but you also don’t want to spend too much time thinking about your next move in quiet. Employees want to believe that the person leading the meeting has a strategy – nothing is more awkward than when it appears that the ship has no captain.
Regardless matter how long your meeting lasts, always provide time for questions or concerns. It is your fault, not your employees’, if a meeting runs over its planned time. Their concerns and suggestions should not be overlooked because you were unable to control your own agenda.
End your meetings on time.
When you have a fixed agenda, attempt to stay on track and limit the number of peripheral topics. Allow the conversation to flow if people are having fun and sharing useful ideas. If someone takes over the meeting to promote their own point of view, try to get them back on track.
Long meetings are rarely beneficial; according to an Atlassian study, the average employee spends 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings, with half of that time classified as “wasted.” If you can wrap up a productive meeting in 20 minutes or less, do it, in my opinion. It’s preferable to have 5 fruitful meetings once a day for a week than to have multiple protracted and ineffective meetings in the same time frame. Obviously, this is dependent on the schedules of your staff, but it’s a nice rule of thumb to have.
Your staff will find abruptly ending a meeting at the moment of a brief reprieve unusual at first, but once they realise how determined you are, they will follow suit. You’ll signal to your colleagues that it’s time to get back to work by closing your laptop, rising up, and walking out.