How productive are your business meetings?

How productive are your business meetings?

However big or small your company, business meetings are likely to be an inevitable and regular part of your working week – but are you getting the most from these meetings?

For operational decisions to be made, marketing campaigns planned, or sales initiatives cooked up, you and your team need time to sit down and discuss the details. But once you find a free window in everyone’s diaries and get your team in the same room, how do you then run a productive business meeting?

This answer is to have a clear and methodical way of driving these meetings.

Getting the maximum value from a meeting

We’ve all sat through overly-long meetings where people’s attention wanes, tempers get frayed and nothing constructive gets decided. Unproductive meetings create more problems than value – curbing engagement, destroying motivation and failing to move your project forward.

To make your meeting proactive and productive:

Know WHY you’re having the meeting – if you’re taking precious time out of everyone’s day, make sure there’s a genuine reason for a meeting. It may be a project kick-off meeting, a follow-up meeting to gain feedback, or a finance meeting to discuss numbers. Whatever the key driver, agree on this before inviting people and include a self-explanatory subject line in the invite, so people know why they’re attending.

Have a clear agenda – a meeting without an agenda is like a business without a strategic plan. A meeting needs direction, so set out the key discussion points, what needs to be covered and how long you estimate the meeting will last. Draft a written agenda with specific agenda points, that’s emailed out to all invitees beforehand and is shared on screen during the meeting.

Invite the right people – a meeting with too many people in the room can soon descend into chaos. Only invite the staff and stakeholders that have direct involvement in the project or discussion. This way, you can stay focused, the agenda won’t go off on a tangent and you (hopefully) will reach some definite and productive conclusions.

Keep minutes of the meeting – it’s very easy to sit through a productive meeting and then, on the next day, have no clue what was agreed. For this reason, keeping minutes is essential so there’s a record of what was said and finalised. This could be formal written minutes, quick notes on action points or even an audio recording of the meeting – automated transcription software tools, like Otter.ai, can provide transcripts on the go.

Summarise key action points – for a meeting to be truly productive, you need to end up with some meaningful action points at the end. Record each action point, who it’s been assigned to and when you’re expecting this to be actioned. This list of action points then becomes the starting point for your next meeting, so you can monitor performance and make sure the project is kept on track.

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