A business meeting is a gathering of people to make decisions or plan activities. An individual typically leads them with leadership skills, such as a CEO, executive director, senior manager, or another type of leader.
The key to conducting a successful business meeting is preparation and planning! In this blog post, we will discuss some things you can do today to run a successful business meeting.
- Organize your meeting. This includes many things like choosing the time and place, setting up a conference call line or Skype account to use for communication during the meeting, preparing materials such as agendas and handouts for reference during the meeting, and inviting all attendees at least one week in advance of the scheduled date.
- Consider your goals. What are you hoping to achieve by conducting this meeting? Meeting goals can range from simple, such as brainstorming a new marketing campaign or settling on dates for quarterly staff meetings, and more complex, such as defining company values and creating an incentive program.
- Prepare materials ahead of time. It may seem like overkill, but trust us, and you’ll be glad for the extra prep time when it comes to meeting materials. Assemble all handouts, agendas, and other items needed in advance.
- Have an agenda. When preparing your agenda—for an hour-plus meeting–break up topics into five-minute intervals so that people can choose what they want to focus on most during discussions or present their ideas without being cut off by a timer going off.
- Keep it short and sweet. No one likes sitting in a meeting for hours on end, so make the most of your time by keeping discussions limited to no more than 20 minutes per topic. If after 20 minutes you’ve still got things left to say, then add them to the “to-do list” or plan another meeting specifically about that subject later on.
- Give people opportunities to talk! One person can dominate an entire conversation; cut off someone who is monopolizing the discussion with a polite reminder that other people have something they want to contribute to, even if their voice has been silent up until now.
- Be inclusive. When making decisions as a group rather than delegating responsibilities–including the details–to just one person.
- Be inclusive in your language, too! Use “we” and “us” rather than “I’ or ‘my. It is a much more collaborative way of speaking to use terms like these; it shows that you are at the center of a team instead of an individual with all the answers.
- Use “You” statements. When giving feedback on someone’s performance, try using “you” statements: “You did this.” vs. “He did this,” for example. This helps them feel as though they have control over their actions and not being spoken about indirectly or talked down to by others in the meeting who may be senior-level people around you but still feels like peers.
- Practice and plan your speaking. Practice speaking up at meetings even if your contributions are small! It’s better than being one of those people who never speak and ends up feeling like they don’t belong or know anything about the topic. Speak more often–even when all you’re saying is “I agree” or “I disagree.” Your voice matters just as much as everyone else’s.
- Establish ground rules. This includes setting up guidelines for participation, communication protocols, and the length of time allocated to meeting topics.
- Create a work environment that fosters creativity and productivity. This involves things such as creating an agenda with clear objectives or goals at the beginning of your session; establishing ground rules on how participants should communicate (e.g., no side conversations); using props like brainstorming charts to stimulate creative thinking; keeping meetings short by focusing on one topic per meeting, and following through after the meeting is over to make sure everyone has tasks they can complete before next week’s scheduled meeting date.
- Map out what you want to cover with an agenda. When mapping out what you want to talk about, it is important to include both broad topics and specific details related to those topics so everyone knows how much time they should spend on each case.
- Create a list of discussion points. Include questions you might ask people who are present to get their input on different issues or ideas. Where possible, plan how long these points will take to talk about and how much time is available for discussion.
- Have break-time. Allow sufficient break-time so people can stretch their legs, chat informally, have conversations one-on-one, grab a coffee from the cafeteria, etc.
Finally, remember that a successful meeting is all about the people who are there and their willingness to engage in discussions. Conducting a meeting can be simple when you have the right equipment, preparation, and ideas.