Getting the Most Out of a Business Meeting

Most of us spend a large part of our work day going from business meeting to another without bothering to assess if we are actually gaining anything out of them. Is there a way to make business meetings more productive?

In order to make the most out of a business meeting you need to improve the productivity of each such meeting. Every meeting should extract the maximum possible for the duration that it lasts. Do not try to make a meeting cover everything under the sun. Instead, try to make sure that the items on the agenda for the particular meeting are covered effectively. At the end of the meeting, the participants should leave knowing the tasks that they need to accomplish.

Here are a few more tips to get the most of out your business meetings.

Business meetings should never be held on an ad hoc basis. You should prepare for a meeting in advance. Start by listing the objectives of the meeting. These objectives need to be clear, specific and measurable. These will help you check if you have covered the meeting goals. You will also waste less time trying to get to the point. List out the expectations or results that you expect from the meeting. During the course of the meeting, encourage the other participants to contribute with their ideas and opinions so that you have their buy-in. The more involved people are, the quicker you will be able to see results. Focus on the bigger issues at hand and do not let tertiary issues take over the meeting. Allow the tone of the meeting to be casual but do not let that make the participants treat the meeting as being frivolous. Leave the jokes for later.

Do not invite people to business meetings unless their presence is required. Just invite those who can actually contribute to the agenda of the meeting. This avoids wasting time for those people who are not really required. Business meetings should be held in a pleasant environment that makes the participants feel relaxed and comfortable. If required, you could rent out an office or conference venue for the meeting so that people have the opportunity to unwind.

Although you have prepared the points that need to be made do not be in a hurry to get to them immediately. Set a steady pace for the meeting and start by making everyone feel comfortable. The tempo should neither be too slow nor too fast.

Running Business Meetings

Business meetings may involve just a few individuals, or at times, many people. Not everybody is born with the talent to address so many people, especially when the object is to promote an idea or product or explain some financial statement. It may involve the takeover of a business, starting of new business, or negotiations of a deal. It may be called to obtain the approval of shareholders to sell assets of the company, or raise share capital. It may be necessary to consult experts or partners on any business matter, or plan how to deploy surplus monies on hand.

Even briefing meetings and brainstorming meetings for coming out of any crisis can be classified as business meetings. Periodical review of productivity, marketing, and financial liabilities, etc., are all part and parcel of business meetings, as are pitch sessions. Likewise, meetings where personnel requirements, and other issues related to personnel are discussed also qualify as business meetings. In addition to these, there might be creditors, and debtors meetings.

Based on the type of business that is to be conducted, meetings may be classified as conferences, seminars, board meetings, annual general meetings, extraordinary general meetings, creditors, meetings, debtors meeting and sales meetings.

Any business meeting should be conducted with a predefined agenda. This is absolutely essential otherwise the matters that are discussed at the meeting may end up completely overshadowing the important matters that need to be resolved immediately. The agenda may be accompanied by some documents providing details and explanations on various items in the agenda. This enables the recipients to mull over the contents, and come up with their input on the matter.

A reasonable notice needs to be given so that no stakeholder feels excluded from the meeting. The time and venue of the meeting too needs to be clearly defined in such notice.

There are legal provisions for calling shareholders meetings, and board meetings. When the meeting involves just a few individuals, like a board meeting, then such notice may be given verbally. But it is always advisable to have documentary evidence, or an email to prove that the meeting was called, and reasonable notice was given.

Since one discussion can lead to another and the meetings can end up nowhere, it is always better to conclude matters that can be resolved quickly first, and keep complex matters that require extensive discussions for later part of the meeting. For ensuring this, there has to be somebody who conducts the meeting, and opens each item for discussion and resolution. It is the responsibility of this person to ensure that the matters discussed do not deviate from what is stated in the notice or agenda. The person leading the meeting needs to ensure that any new matters if made are duly noted so that another meeting may be called, and opinions of all concerned on the matter can be obtained.

Another problem with large gathering is that people tend to repeat the same questions or the same opinions. The person conducting the meeting needs to ensure that this is minimized, as everybody’s time is valuable. Using a timer helps.

Leading the Effective Business Meeting

In daily life, sometimes we can find the business meetings which are digressive of the main point. Because of many aspects, the business meeting is not effective. Before holding any meeting, you should consider to call the meeting when the condition is critical to have the meeting. You also need to structure it well so the meeting can meet its goal.

Before holding a meeting, you should prepare some things such as the business books, flip charts, overhead projectors, personal organizers, notebook papers, spiral notebooks, slide projectors, and the transparencies.

The first thing you should do is deciding whether the meeting is important or not. It is related to the issue whether the issue is involved to the individual or the conference call. You also need to determine the person who needs to come to the meeting. It is better for you to keep the number of the attendees in small number. The main reason is having the large meeting is not as effective as having the small meeting. By this way, the discussion of the meeting can be more focused.

To make the meeting is more effective, you should set the definite starting and stopping time. During the meeting, one of the attendees should prepare the agenda. Remember to explain the purpose of the meeting. If you have many goals, you should decide which goal has the command priority. Help the attendees understand more about the meeting progress by using the visual aids like the charts, slides, and the handouts. It is better for you to begin the meeting in the designated time. You should start the meeting whether everyone is present or not.

You can start off the meeting directly to the point. You also need to allocate the time for each issue. Moving through issues will let the discussion but discouraging digression or the repetition. It is recommended for you to use the timer.

If the debate or the issue runs overtime, you need to postpone the discussion until the end of the meeting. Ensure that you cover the other issues on the agenda.

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