“We’re having a business meeting in 5 minutes, everybody in the conference room.”
How often do you hear these words on a weekly basis when at work? And as soon as you say them, you will no doubt hear employees (and maybe even yourself) groaning and complaining.
But not all meetings have to cause such a bad taste, instead they can be quite helpful to any business, employee and boss.
Cameron Herold, a business development expert and author of “Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less” says: “Meetings aren’t terrible. We’re just terrible at running meetings.”
He says businesses can make better use of the time spent in meetings, and improve employee morale and productivity in the process by following some simple steps.
- Have an agenda. Meetings that don’t have a clear agenda tend to go off track easily. They also often include people who don’t need to be present and would be better off at their desks, completing important projects, Herold says. The agenda can be short, but should include the main purpose of the meeting, the possible outcomes and the action items to be covered.
“An agenda prevents the meeting from being hijacked by some random topic,” Herold says. “It also allows your more introverted team members to prepare what they want to say in the discussion. Most introverts won’t chime in when they don’t know the agenda ahead of time and you could miss some great ideas.”
• Determine a meeting style. There are three styles of meetings: information share, creative discussion and consensus decision. In an information-share meeting, the information flows in one direction. Either employees tell the leadership something, or senior management has something to say to employees. Creative discussions are brainstorming sessions. People toss out ideas without any judgments made about feasibility or validity, and decisions come at a later date. Consensus-decision meetings are held when a decision is needed.
- Start on time and end early. If you scheduled the meeting for 10 a.m., start at 10 a.m. “This shows respect for people’s times, and also reflects something much bigger,” Herold says. “If you can’t start a meeting on time, why would it be any different for anything else that’s going on in a company?” End the meeting 5 minutes early. That gives people time to grab a cup of coffee, check emails, go to the restroom or chat with colleagues before their next meeting.
• Foster useful communication. Some people talk a lot in every meeting. Others rarely speak. For a meeting to be successful, you need to get everyone engaged, Herold says. Foster dialogue with newcomers or quiet people first, and then go around the table, moving up in seniority as you solicit feedback or ideas. Also, make sure people are not distracted because they are responding to email on their cell phones or laptops.
• Know your role. Every meeting should have a chair, a timekeeper, participants and a closer. The chair announces the type of meeting it is and makes sure everyone sticks with the agenda.
Not all business meetings have to be met with rolling eyes and employees dragging their feet to the conference room, Try these tips and see if they make a difference at your office.