Running a business meeting is something of an art. Covering every topic thoroughly and concluding on time are but a few of the challenges. Here is my advice on running a great business meeting:
1. Make the Purpose Clear
Keep clarity in mind when preparing for a meeting. The discussion should always center on the objective. The team shouldn’t be allowed to deviate from the topic unnecessarily. With clarity, the meeting will be more focused and productive. Clarity minimizes confusion among attendees.
There are goals that you’d like to accomplish after the meeting, and you need to outline those goals at the very beginning. You can start with an outline and dedicate the first section of the outline directly to highlighting those specific goals.
You want to summarize the discussion for each bullet point included in your outline. You basically want to make sure that you are summarizing the discussion for each topic addressed during the meeting. You’ll want to gather agreement once each topic has been covered.
2. Set Expectations
You want everyone to agree to some act at the end of each discussion. This shifts the responsibility to each participant. You want everyone to be accountable for advancing a goal or an initiative. Additionally, everyone should agree to take ownership of specific duties.
3. Come Prepared
Preparation is key. Ideally, there should be an agenda. You may want to have printed copies of agendas available to all team members that clearly define the meeting’s objectives. There may be some research presented. You may have to create a list of attendees or a presentation to cover all the topics. Attendees may need access to background information to clue them in on a particular topic being covered in the meeting.
4. Discuss the Plan of Action
Once the meeting is wrapped up, you need to walk away with an action plan of some sort. You want to indicate your commitments as you conclude the meeting. Additionally, make sure to communicate who will be responsible for which actions following the meeting. The next steps should be outlined at the end.
5. Stay Focused
Try not to deviate from the schedule. This is to make sure that your meeting concludes on time. The longer the meeting goes, the more likely you are to get off-topic or off-course. You need to create a meeting agenda and assign a timeline to each item, if at all possible. It would be good for everyone to have a copy of the schedule with them.
It’s best to follow up with each person via email following the meeting. Send an email to outline all of the topics discussed, as well as any accomplishments that occurred during the meeting. This also reminds everyone of their responsibilities and restates the action plan. Any deadlines discussed during the meeting should be reiterated in the email.
6. Take Notes
A lot can go on in a meeting. Concerns and ideas may arise that will need to be related at another time. You must take ample notes throughout to ensure that you have captured all of the pertinent information. This is especially important if you are running the meeting.
7. Only Invite the Necessary People
Does everyone really need to attend the meeting? Having as few people as possible present makes it easier to stay focused and end the meeting on time. Most people dread these things, anyway, so it makes sense to have only the critical people present.
8. No Cellphones!
Request that everyone shuts off their personal devices. This significantly minimizes the number of interruptions. It also reduces the likelihood that someone will get distracted and have to be brought up to speed when they return. It’s hard enough to get back on track following a digression, to say nothing of having to reopen a closed conversation because one team member had to step out to take a call.
Running a corporate meeting well requires careful planning. Guiding the discussions and keeping the whole endeavor on schedule are challenging for most people, but mastering these things are important when running a proper business meeting. Following these tips will ensure your meetings are always clear and to the point.