Make Your Meetings More Productive in 8 Steps

We’ve all been in them–meetings that seem to drag on forever and end less productive than when they began. As a business owner, you don’t want your employees to dread having meetings with you. So how can you make sure your meetings run smoothly and productively? Read below.

Always Have an Agenda

Don’t walk into a meeting without an outline of topics to discuss and goals to achieve. Creating an agenda helps to spell out the items to be discussed and the expected results. Always pass out your agenda prior to a meeting. This will also help meeting participants know what is expected of them and how to prepare for the meeting. Make sure they have ample time to gather their needed notes and resources.

Set an End Time

Start your meeting on time, and set a specific end time. This will help you to keep a timely approach on your agenda items.

Lay Out the Purpose of the Meeting

You should ask at the beginning of every meeting, “Why are we here, and what goal are we hoping to accomplish?” If you lay out your objective immediately, you set the meeting’s tone and assert yourself as the meeting’s leader.

Schedule Guests Appropriately

Don’t include anyone who’s not absolutely necessary to the topic at hand. If you only need someone for the last 10 minutes or so, schedule them for that time. Plus, be wary of meeting with more than 10 people; they tend to derail easily and are harder to keep on track.

Stick to the Subject

Stay on topic and don’t deter from your agenda. If an issue arises that can be resolved between a couple of people outside of the meeting, make a note to follow up at a later time.

Develop Meeting Guidelines

Every company will have different guidelines for running their meetings, but make sure you stick to your meeting norms. An example of a typical norm is allowing every member uninterrupted time to contribute. Once your norms are established, it’s important to follow them. They will help you be proactive and keep your meetings running smoothly.

Turn off the Phones

You’re either at a meeting or not. Unless you are waiting for an important call, keep the phone at your desk. If you’re planning on having a long meeting, schedule short breaks for employees to check their email.

Leave with Action Items

You should never leave a meeting without action items. At the end of your meeting, go around and review the action steps required of each person.  This will help you make sure you are meeting your intended goals stated at the beginning of the meeting. Create a timeline to go along with your action item list and who’s responsible.

Other Helpful Meeting Tips

  • Beware of automatic meetings. Don’t have a meeting just to have one. Typically Friday or Monday morning meetings can turn into “posting” meetings, meaning there is little to no value behind them. If your company is getting together just to update each other without concluding in specific action items, these meetings could easily happen over email.
  • Try “standing” meetings. Some swear by making everyone stand during meetings. This supposedly cuts down on the tendency to reiterate points as people tire of standing. These types of meetings are effective at creating quicker meetings.
  • Allow for transit time. Be careful of scheduling meetings back-to-back. Building in 10-15 minutes for travel time between meetings can reduce stress.
  • Meet on Tuesday at 3 p.m. A LifeHacker study concluded that Tuesday at 3 p.m. is the most “available” spot for business meetings. While this is a good indication of when to meet if you have a busy schedule, you should take into account your team’s work flow.

Now that your meetings are more productive, make your business run more smoothly with popular small business tools, such as online fax services, email marketing services, and virtual PBX services.

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