The Ultimate Guide to Running Successful Business Meetings

Business Meeting

Business meetings are fundamental to the smooth operation of the day-to-day running of the organisation. Through business meetings, ideas are developed, shared and debated to arrive at the best possible strategy that will produce the maximum outcomes for an organisation.

Business meetings can happen between an organization’s executives and their employees, company representatives and clients, or department leaders and their teams.

Key Takeaways

  • A business meeting is where executives and other stakeholders of an organisation gather to discuss issues, resolve problems or celebrate a milestone achieved. Business meetings are critical to the growth of an organisation because they allow for the flow of information across all departments in the organisation.
  • Research shows that in the US alone, 55 million meetings happen per day. However, business meetings are popularly known for being boring, time-wasting, and ineffective. And the cost of having bad meetings is inefficiency, lethargy, frustration, and pessimism.
  • Setting a meeting agenda keeps everyone from talking about things that aren’t related to the meeting’s purpose. It will also make it evident when conversations have deviated from the original issue and when a solution or response to the questions have been provided.
  • Types of meetings are Daily Huddle, Managers meeting, Strategy and Planning meeting, and Town Hall meeting. Every person in an organisation finds themselves in at least two of these meetings. This helps with the effective flow of communication and information in the organisation.
  • Virtual meetings are becoming the norm. To make virtual meetings effective, you need to test your technology before you begin. Also, checking your lighting and improving your background are important too.

What is a Business Meeting?

A business meeting is the gathering of executives and other professionals in an organisation to discuss and resolve issues or challenges, or to celebrate a milestone or an accomplishment.

In a business meeting, decisions are made that will have a beneficial impact on the organisation, contribute to its progress, and help the organisation achieve its goals.

Business meetings can be attended in person, in an office premises or venue chosen by the initiator and participants or attendees.

Additionally, with the rise of remote or hybrid working styles, meetings are now popularly conducted using technology. So, participants can join a meeting regardless of their geographical location or time zone.

How To Create Business Meeting Agenda

Creating an agenda keeps meeting organisers and participants on track, preventing them from going off-track, thus maximising the effectiveness of the meeting.

The following steps can be used in creating an effective meeting agenda.

  • Draft and outline topics that will be deliberated on.
  • The topics set should be those that directly concern those who will be attending. This rules out wasting the time of those who are not supposed to be there.
  • Set a goal for the meeting. The goal clearly spells out what is expected of the attendees. Is it to make contributions or simply to just listen?
  • Set topics to be discussed as questions. This will help attendees prepare for what they are going to contribute. It will also help to identify when discussions are veering off the topic at hand, and, it will be clear when a solution or answer to the questions has been provided.
  • Allot the appropriate time it will take to handle each item on the agenda. Setting a timeframe will help participants to be conscious when they are making their contributions so that participants won’t just go on and on.

The Horrendous Cost of Bad Meetings

“Meetings are often boring and wasteful.  In fact, I’ve always believed that they are the best method yet invented by mankind to convert energy into solid waste” states Trevor Throness, an expert at helping organisations and business leaders conduct effective meetings and a senior instructor at professionalleadershipinstitute.com

Throness adds that the cost of running bad meetings are inefficiency, lethargy, frustration, cynicism and pessimism.

Bad meetings lead to boredom, a lack of enthusiasm, and a dearth of engagement from participants.

This may result from inviting the wrong people into the wrong meetings. People who have nothing to do with what is being discussed in a meeting will often be frustrated and wonder why they are always required to attend these meetings.

Bad meetings waste people’s time, and nothing gets achieved at the end of the day. Throness advised comparing the cost of having people in a room for half an hour against using that time to do more productive work.

Since business meetings are critical to an organisation’s growth and performance, it is expedient for managers and meeting organisers to know how to conduct effective meetings so as to reduce inefficiency and prevent boredom.

The Four Types of Business Meetings

The essence of business meetings is to ensure communication is flowing to everyone in the organisation regardless of their position or rank. These four types of business meetings have every type of employee in an organisation carried along.

The Daily Huddle

It is the type of meeting that happens every day to synergize everyone and to keep everyone focused. Everyone gets the opportunity to set one top priority. This type of meeting does not exceed 15 minutes.

Managers Meeting

This is the type of meeting that is set up to take care of operational and tactical issues, and details that need to be looked at every week. For example “weekly managers’ meeting”.

Strategy and Planning Meeting

This type of meeting is held annually. The kinds of topics that are often discussed in these types of meetings are : “Where are we going?” “Are we headed directly in the right direction? ” says Thronnes

Town Hall Meeting

Town halls happen periodically throughout the year. The purpose is to give information, take questions and give answers.

How to Run Great Virtual Business Meetings 

Running a virtual meeting is different from running an in-person meeting. And one of the benefits of conducting virtual meetings is that it enables you to bring people from different parts of the world together.

Also, because virtual meetings are becoming the norm now, you need to know how to conduct one effectively.

Test The Technology

One of the key areas you need to focus on is technology. It is therefore highly recommended that you test your equipment beforehand. Test your microphone to see if you can be heard clearly. You need to get the sound right. Learn how to mute yourself and others. Because as you go on, you may need to stop talking and allow others to contribute.

Also, it is important that everyone keep their cameras on. “Putting the camera off is like putting a bag over your head,” Throness says. Putting the camera on encourages participation and helps everyone fully engage in the meeting.

“We need to see your facial expressions!It helps too for others to notice that you’re awake and not out washing your car while the meeting is going on.”

Taking Regular Breaks is a Necessity. 

“Zoom fatigue is real, and giving participants a few minutes off every hour to walk around, use the facilities, and so on is a big help and appreciated by everyone”, says Throness. He recommends taking “10 minutes of every hour for break time”.

Staying too long without going on breaks can make participants lose interest because it’s hard to concentrate or participate when you are fatigued.

Lighting and Background

Putting a light or lamp on your desk helps illuminate your face when you are video conferencing. Also, avoid sitting against a bright window. It would degrade the quality of your video call.

Your background also matters. Your background gives an impression of who you are to your audience. It informs them about your level of professionalism. Throness tells a hilarious story about a videoconference he had with an advisor that didn’t portray the advisor’s persona and professional image in a good light.

“I attended a meeting with a ‘high-powered’ advisor who was attending the meeting from his basement.  Behind him were stacks of paper, insulation falling out of the ceiling, junk piled high against a far wall, and general mess everywhere. Was it only me who wondered how accurate his spreadsheets were based on the condition of his basement?  Like when you find your airplane seat in a mess and immediately wonder if they also forgot to fill the plane with gas?”

Throness advises that you need to “pay some attention to your background.  Use some books, plants, or art that are meaningful to you. Let your background say something about you that you’d like to convey to the world.  Believe me, everyone is looking carefully at what’s behind you.”

Give Room For Some Personal Life Stuff.

Because most meetings will be held at home, you may occasionally see family members of attendees, particularly children, walking past the background. And Throness says it’s ok to get personal. “Encourage that! Insist on introductions to kids!”

What Kills Your Meetings and What You Can Do About it.

As long as organisations and businesses exist, there will always be meetings. For example, research shows that in the United States alone, 55 million meetings happen every day. And employees spend 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings.

Furthermore, the prevalent perception of business meetings is that they are boring, time consuming, and ineffective. It’s worth noting that meeting organizers play a significant role in why people dislike attending meetings. Here are some pointers to assist you avoid common business meeting mistakes that sap people’s motivation to attend.

Too many hours spent in meetings.

Business meetings should last no longer than two hours. Anything beyond that will make people feel exasperated. For example, a meeting Throness attended started at 7 pm and ended at 1: 30am.

“By 9:30 my leg was bouncing uncontrollably under the table.  By 10:15 I was considering excusing myself to use the washroom and instead escaping into the night and knocking on random neighbourhood doors begging for asylum; at midnight I considered taking my own life.” Throness revealed.

Inviting People Who Have No Business Being There.

When you invite or make it compulsory for people who are not supposed to attend the meeting, their murmuring and complaining may spark gloom in the entire room. Emotions are contagious. Ensure that attendees are only those who have business being there.

Not Having an Agenda Before the Meeting Begins.

You can’t have an effective meeting without a set agenda. An agenda sets the meeting in motion. It helps everyone know what the issues are and what they need to contribute to the expected outcome of the conversations. An agenda prevents everyone from discussing issues outside of what the meeting has been called for, hence putting a limit to meandering contributions and conversations and saving time.

Being the Only Speaker

As the manager or executive or meeting initiator, allowing only your voice to dominate the conversation will make it less participatory.

Furthermore, giving room for everyone to ask questions and contribute their ideas will make the meeting more engaging and enjoyable.

Also, to encourage conversations, ask questions. There are people who will likely go without saying a word throughout the meeting. Calling on people, especially those who are quiet, will give them the push to speak up.

Establishing Meeting Rhythms

Setting meeting rhythms will make your meetings to be more efficient and productive. Meeting rhythms is about the frequency, duration and types of participants.

Consistent meeting rhythms promote a flow of communication to everyone in the organization, and a consistent pattern that keeps everyone pumped up and informed about their roles and future goals.

According to Thronnes, the goal of setting meeting rhythms is for everyone in the organization to belong somewhere, in at least two meetings. Everyone attends the town Hall, and everyone is involved in a Huddle.  After that, people attend meetings based on their role in the organization. Setting meeting rhythms ensure that only people who have business being there will attend.

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