5 hacks to hold a better business meeting
Submitted by Catrin Fox on
Which activity takes up 15% of an entire organisation's time? You guessed it: meetings.
That same activity keeps senior executives occupied approximately two days out of every week. These findings are shocking, yet not altogether surprising. Business meetings are part and parcel of organisational life. They're absolutely vital for the purpose of generating new ideas, developing plans, meeting objectives and working collectively towards business growth.
Yet, many people see them as a waste of time. When did we lose sight of the real value of business meetings?
The problem is that anyone can call a meeting, but it takes a certain amount of planning and efficiency to deliver a truly valuable and productive outcome. Just like a business, or a marketing campaign, or a sales pitch, a meeting must have an objective, deadlines, timing efficiency, and the right people in the driving seat.
Isn't it time to win back that precious 15% of your company's time? Try these five hacks for better business meetings:
Don't Meet. Huddle:
If your team groans audibly at the invitation to a meeting, invite them to 'huddle' instead. Huddles are typically short, quick-fire gatherings to check-in with team members and keep tabs on progress. They're ideal for project updates and work particularly well first thing in the morning.
Focus on keeping your huddle short and sharp, but steer clear of debate or discussion. If issues are raised that require more in-depth collaboration, shelve it until after the huddle. That way, the rest of your colleagues can get on with their side of the campaign whilst you work on sub-tasks with the team members concerned.
Check Who's Chairing.
Every meeting needs a chair (not counting the ones you sit on). The chair, or meeting organiser, is in charge of following the agenda, keeping the meeting on-topic, assigning tasks and finishing on time.
There's nothing worse than long drawn-out meetings that frequently wander off-topic. That's what turns a 20-minute meeting into an hour, and is often why meetings are considered a waste of time. If you're in charge, keep things on-topic and finish promptly (or earlier, if possible). Your colleagues will thank you for it.
Pick the Right Room.
There's a time and a place for every meeting. Whilst short huddles can often be accomplished in a common area, formal meetings work better within an appropriate meeting environment.
Small team meetings, one-to-ones, appraisals and interviews work best in a suitably sized room for 2 to 4 people. Avoid large, cavernous meeting rooms when a smaller and more intimate space is available -- it's more likely to put your subjects at ease.
Likewise, when you're seeking to impress a certain level of authority or urgency upon delegates, your choice of room reflects your sincerity. Boardrooms convey a sense of prestige and are often large, attractively furnished and impressive spaces. They are also functional and, in the case of Landmark’s boardrooms, come equipped with Wi-Fi, telecoms and audiovisual tools.
Other types of meeting space include training and seminar rooms, conference space and event venues, and open space for hospitality events and private functions.
Keep Up the Pace.
Sometimes, when your workload is piling up, it's tempting to postpone a recurring meeting until the following week. One word: don't. You might win half an hour, but you're setting a negative precedent that can easily dilute your reason for meeting. A lack of formal facetime and a string of cancelled meetings can lead others to suspect that the reason for the meeting -- such as a campaign or a product launch -- is low priority. If it's not worth 30 minutes of everyone's time, why bother?
If you are serious about that campaign, set the right example from the get-go. Use your slot to maximum effect by checking up on previous actions, holding people accountable, assigning new tasks and setting deadlines. Set expectations for the next meeting and make sure it happens.
Lay Ground Rules.
Finally, every type and style of meeting -- from quick huddles to monthly board meetings -- should follow a basic set of ground rules:
• Be prepared: Circulate an agenda in advance and follow it religiously throughout the meeting.
• Be timely: Start and finish on time (or earlier). Time is money, after all.
• Be accountable: Assign actions with deadlines before the meeting concludes.
• Next steps: Agree how each task will be followed-up, by whom, and by when.
• Review: It's good practice to follow up with a brief communication reviewing the tasks agreed.
Meetings have an invaluable place in the business life cycle, providing they are treated as such. Time is indeed money, and with 15% or more of your company's collective time allotted to meetings, it's time to recoup that valuable asset.