Business meetings are often crucial in the running of your organization. That being said, a lot of meetings can end up impeding productivity by wasting the time and energy of your staff. This is because the meetings don’t have a plan behind them, and so they very quickly go off track. If you want to ensure that you are getting the most out of your meetings, then keep reading.
Set Goals for the Meeting
Before you call a meeting, you need to have a firm understanding of its purpose. What do you want to achieve from the meeting? You shouldn’t be scheduling meetings for the sake of it; that is how time is wasted. Most of the time, meetings are held to communicate pertinent information or to look for solutions to an issue. Therefore, you need to go into every meeting with an idea of the goals that you want to accomplish.
Create an Agenda
Create an agenda for every meeting; it will help to maximize the efficacy of the meetings and keep them on track. The agenda for the meeting needs to both reflect and reinforce the meeting’s objective. It can be as detailed as you like, although it is arguably better to be more detailed. You need to do your best to break down all necessary information and how much time it should take to go through each element of the meeting. The agenda can be sent out to the attendees in advance to give them an idea of what the meeting will cover; it can also be used in the meeting to stay on track.
Whether your meeting is a small one-on-one or a with a whole department, you need to have done your homework. Once you know why you are holding the meeting, you can begin to do a little research. If your meeting is to communicate with colleagues, then you should be prepared to answer questions. Or if the meeting is to suggest solutions or new programs to try and implement, then again, you need to be knowledgeable about them. If your meeting is with potential investors or collaborators, then you need to make an effort to learn more about them.
Improve Your Communication Skills
In order to get the most out of your meetings, you need to improve your communication skills. As the person hosting or taking control of the meeting, you should first take the time to think about what you are going to say; you could make note cards which cover your talking points.
Interruptions happen, do not talk over other people. If you get interrupted, wait for that person to finish talking and then gently steer the conversation back to what you need to discuss. Try to portray yourself as confident when you are talking. You need to show others that you are sure of what you are saying and confident in yourself. Make eye contact with the attendees, don’t slouch, and try to avoid filler words or qualifying statements.
You should also do your best to try and keep it brief. People begin to lose interest after about twenty minutes. They can’t absorb any more information; after that, they begin to switch off. Think about how long your meeting is going to run for. Can you save some time by trimming out the unnecessary information? If you can’t, it might be worth thinking about incorporating a break to allow the attendees an opportunity to refresh and allow themselves to redivert their attention back to you for the rest of the meeting.
Avoid Going off Topic
For smaller meetings, this is a little easier, but as soon as the list of attendees begins to grow, the likelihood of straying off-topic increases. Between interruptions and talking amongst themselves, it can be hard to remain focused, and the meeting can quickly become a waste of time. Although it is almost impossible to avoid these, the best thing you can do is to continue politely redirect the conversations. Ask the attendees to hold their questions until the end and encourage them to start a dialogue with you over email afterwards if they produce any more queries or questions.
After the meeting, you need something to refer back to; the attendees could produce some salient points that you hadn’t previously considered. The notes can also come in handy when it comes to sending up follow-up emails and delegating tasks. It is unrealistic to think that you could take notes yourself during the meeting. You could delegate that task to another attendee; however, this might not work if they are easily distracted or if the information is coming out too quickly. Luckily, there are other options out there like using an AI, as chronicled in this article on AI note taking from Anchor AI.
Contemplate Potential Obstacles
Unfortunately, despite the preparations that you have made, there is still the potential for obstacles or problems to arise. You need to have thought about them in advance in order to ensure that you don’t panic and make more mistakes. For example, if you are relying on technology to give your presentation, do you have paper copies in case the computer crashes?
If your meeting is online, do you have a reliable wi-fi connection, and your gadgets are all charged. If you have a comprehensive agenda, you can assign times to each point and refer back to the agenda to keep you on track throughout the meeting.
Keep the Attendees Engaged
In order to ensure that your attendees are going to get as much out of the meeting as possible, you need to guarantee their engagement. Otherwise, it is still a waste of time. There are several things that you can do to help to keep your audience engaged. First, you could try to weave in an anecdote or two to help illustrate your points and forge a personal connection with the attendees.
Try not to alienate your attendees by using fancy business jargon; make sure your presentation is accessible. Use resources well to maximize engagement and take the time to answer questions or queries at the end of your presentation to ensure the audience has understood.
Meetings can be used to help your business to reach its goals, but they can also be huge wastes of time if not prepared for properly. Use the tips listed above to ensure that both you and your attendees are going to get the most out of your meeting.