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How to make sure your business meetings are as productive as possible

A meeting should bemet with a particular purpose in order to bring about success, as aimlesslygathering together is not beneficial to anyone attending. To keep meetings ontrack, and resolve issues needing attention, there are a few useful tips to beconsidered.

 Start on time

People’s time isvaluable, and nobody likes to be kept waiting. Not only is this setting themeeting up to a bad start by irking those attending, but it could throw off theentire day by setting people back if the meeting also doesn’t end on time. Tobe productive, people need to be shown that this meeting is of importance, andis to be treated as such, so starting punctually is crucial to display thislevel of significance.

 Have an agenda

To lead a meeting,one must have a clear understanding of what is to be covered. Setting goalswill give an indication of which direction the meeting should go, and ensuresthat it is kept on track throughout. One tip of how to stay focused and withinthe agenda is by expressing in 5 words what the meeting will be about, andasking those attending to do the same. If the answers differ, or you are unableto do so, it will be clear that those attending may not be aware of the mainissue at hand, and will be best to clear this up before people’s time is wastedby disadvantageous contribution.

 Consider who should attend

Each meeting shouldconsist of selected, appropriate people to tackle the issue at hand. This willbreed productivity, as everybody will be likely to contribute and have an ideaof what should be considered at the meeting.

 Ban technology

Technology is aneasy source of distraction in meetings, whether it be because an email flashesup on a phone or somebody is distracted on their laptop. By banning technologyfor the length of the meeting, it ensures that everybody is present and payingattention. Also, studies have shown that people taking notes on paper, ratherthan on a computer, absorb and understand more of the ideas being discussed.

Set actions to be taken

A meeting is onlyas good as the results it generates. Assign specific people tasks to take onafter the meeting, so that the point of the meeting is met. It is also crucialto follow up on these tasks, and ensure that they are working towards thedesired goal.

Take a break

It is difficult forthose attending to be switched on for a whole hour (if that is how long it’sheld for), and is nearly impossible for them to take in all that is being said.A short break allows them to recollect their thoughts, think over what has alreadybeen discussed and consider what points they still want to raise. A 5 minutebreak to boost productivity can save 1 hour of people half paying attention,and can benefit all those involved.

 The youth can bring a new approach

Despite havingfewer years of experience, the younger or newer staff should not be overlooked,as they can offer new and otherwise unnoticed perspectives on issues. It ishard to stand back and look at a concern when you are entirely wrapped up inthe business, so it may take a new set of eyes to breathe new life into aproject.

Introduce the ‘parking lot’ method

Although staying ontrack is essential for a productive meeting, participants may raise other goodideas but which are not as pressing. In this case, create a ‘parking lot’ tostore these ideas in to be discussed further in another meeting. This letsthose involved know that their voice has been heard, but also does not divertaway from the point at hand, and the point of the meeting.

Finish on time

This is likely tocome about with a mixture of many of the tips already mentioned (using theparking lot method, starting on time and banning technology for example). Itwill bother those attending if they are late for their next endeavour becausethis particular meeting overran, and will likely deter them from attendingfurther meetings if this is a regular occurrence. By leading a meeting, youhave to take the role of a chat show host, and be prepared to interject theconversation if the ideas being discussed are not completely vital. Planning isrequired to ensure meetings end on time, as the correct time slot must beprovided, or else a further meeting will be necessary.

Ask for anonymous feedback

If you are trulytrying to improve how to approach meetings, ask those attending for anonymousfeedback. Although this will only really work with internal meetings (externalmeetings are typically more formal), it will highlight areas that you may needto address. For example, you may discover that you interrupt, or that themeeting felt very monotonous.

 Keep it interesting

Richard Branson haspreviously stated that a “change of scenery and a bit of fun does wonders forgetting people thinking differently and loosening up”. So, take a meeting awayfrom the boardroom, or introduce an element of entertainment to keep brainsswitched on. Often, the same old style of meeting will breed the same old typeof outcome, so switch it up to introduce a new way of thinking.

Disclaimer 

Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and arenot intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We havetaken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein isaccurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete orauthoritative statement of law. 

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