Meetings are an important part of your business. Through them, you’re able to reach consensus among team members, listen to others’ opinions and concerns, and come to important decisions that drive your organization. However, the importance of meetings doesn’t guarantee their usefulness and effectiveness. According to the Ovum Global collaboration study, which surveyed 3,926 full time employees in Europe, Asia Pacific, North America and Central and Latin America, 67% of employees reported that over half of the meetings they partake in are fruitless. Conducting purposive meetings is an intention-filled art that must be mastered in order to save time, resources, and have happy and engaged employees.
Here are four steps on how to conduct successful meetings:
Step 1: Plan the meeting
Create a clear agenda for the meeting. The first step in this phase is to define the goal for the meeting. This goal will serve as your compass through the process, and keep you grounded and away from time-wasting and energy-diverting elements both in the planning process and during the meeting.
Be sure to have all the information necessary for the meeting before hand, and understand it thoroughly. If you need clarification on any matters from someone, ask them whatever questions you need to ask to better lay out the topics for the team at the meeting. If certain participants are expected to share at the meeting, let them know ahead of time so that they come prepared and deliver the information efficiently. If having other key team members plan the meeting with you will make it more cohesive, reach out to them and make this step a team effort.
Step 2: Set up the meeting
Decide who needs to be there, and do so judiciously. Having participants who aren’t concerned with the matters discussed, or unable to solve the issues at hand, will ensure you’ll have uninterested pen fiddlers. You’re also robbing them of valuable time they could be spending working on important tasks, and this wasted working time will reflect on financial losses for you.
Define a starting and ending time, and stick to them. The Ovum Global collaboration study found that late start times cost executives an average of 3 hours a week, and add up to feelings of frustration in team members.
Step 3: Conduct the meeting
Engage the participants by creating a brief space for introductions, to generate a sense of partnership and for each member to feel acknowledged. This may encourage them to participate later on into the meeting.
Create ground rules to ensure the meeting will run smooth and effectively, and make them known to the participants at the beginning of the meeting so that they know what’s expected of them. Ban smartphone and other digital device use during the meeting to foster concentration. Allow for contributions from all participants, but limit the time for each of them to share so that the meeting doesn’t drag on and everyone has a fair chance to give their input.
Stick to the agenda and make sure others do so too. If there are important, yet irrelevant points brought up, make a note of them and plan a course of action for those later on. Make sure to end the meeting promptly.
Step 4: Follow up after the meeting
Follow up with the participants within the first 24 hours to make sure that the conclusion of the meeting is clear, and each member knows what the steps to follow are. You can write an email or memo highlighting the key points discussed during the meeting, actions that specific members said they would take in order to solve the issues discussed, and clarify the deadlines for the tasks delegated.