Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
Meetings are an essential part of doing business and growing your business dream, which is why it’s so important to make sure you and your team are using them to your advantage. We go into meetings with the intent to generate ideas, solve problems, and keep projects on track, but instead, they sometimes end up draining time and productivity.
Luckily, by doing a little extra homework, you can ensure that your meetings are effective and beneficial for everyone involved, says Rashelle Isip, owner of The Order Expert (Opens in a new tab), a time management and productivity company in New York. “A meeting is just like a story,” explains Isip. “There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
Use these tips to make sure you and your team are getting the most out of your meetings, so you can focus on doing great work and growing your business.
Plan ahead. Reserve a space, invite the appropriate colleagues to attend, and inform guests of the purpose of the meeting, Isip says. For example, a team huddle can be called to brainstorm, set goals, or serve as an information session. It’s a great idea to prepare a thoughtful agenda to distribute to attendees a day or two prior to the gathering.
Stick to the schedule. Once you’ve established a start time and end time, stick to it. If any attendees are late to the meeting, it’s important to not delay the meeting while you wait — that’s because doing so could cause your meeting to run overtime, and have a domino effect on attendees’ schedules.
Minimize distractions. Rethink allowing electronic devices at meetings. If attendees are focused on checking their e-mail or using their laptops, iPads, and tablets for tasks unrelated to the meeting, they can’t be fully engaged in the discussion. Ask attendees to disconnect from their devices and give their undivided attention to the topic and presenter(s).
Create an agenda. Allot a specific amount of time to discuss each item on the agenda, and be sure to include a separate time block for questions and comments. Assign a timekeeper to keep the discussion moving, and when it meanders from the stated topic, redirect the conversation back to the agenda.
Leave with a call to action. Once the meeting is over, it’s time to determine next steps. Do you need to write a memo summarizing the high points of the meeting for others in the company? If so, write and distribute it within 72 hours after the meeting. Did you ask meeting attendees to gather additional information about a topic discussed in the meeting or to follow up on an idea that was suggested? It’s important to provide a deadline for all tasks to be completed. If an additional meeting is required, suggest a few dates and times to get it on the calendar.
Meetings are essential for keeping a small business on track to reach its goals. By developing and sticking to a well thought-out plan, you can make sure your meetings are productive, effective, and even more enjoyable.