Thursday 02 January, 2014
Meetings are part of having a business that we all love to hate. Most of the time, they’re useless time wasters that we dread. If you’re a freelancer, small business or entrepreneur that can dodge the bullet of holding meetings entirely, you’re lucky. But most of us have to have meetings sometimes.
Meetings may be a necessary evil, but at least you can tighten them up and make them as effective as possible. And if you can do this, your participants will thank you for it.
First of all, do you really need to have the meeting at all? If there’s any way you can get the information across or the tasks completed through email, social media tools, group chat or Skype, do it that way instead. Even if you’re all in the same building, holding a virtual meeting will save everybody that much more time.
State Your Purpose
Create a clear objective or set of objectives for the meeting and make sure everyone attending knows is. Everything in the meeting should be directed toward meeting this objective or these objectives. You can plan your meeting by starting with the objective and asking yourself, ‘What needs to be done in order to make this happen?’
Invite only people that really need to attend the meeting. If someone is wanted for just one small thing, send them an email. Don’t invite anyone who doesn’t need to participate fully from beginning to end. Another option is to contact people during the meeting on Skype or another service if you only need them for something quick.
Create an Agenda
From your stated objective, create an agenda. This is a schedule for the meeting in outline form. You don’t have to plan out each minute, but identify the key sections and about how long they should be. Identify points that need to be covered, questions to be asked, and actions that need to be taken. During the meeting, try to stick to your agenda.
You may want to ask questions that need to be asked before the meeting. Then, you can address them during the meeting.
Watch the Time
Always start and end meetings on time. Start on time even if there are latecomers out of respect for those who come on time. Finish up exactly when you say you will so that everybody can get back to their day, even if the business at hand isn’t fully finished. The last thing you want is to frustrate your participants by a meeting that goes too long.
Get feedback after each meeting. Ask the participants how it was and if there is anything they would change. See if everyone got what they needed out of it and whether or not they all felt it was necessary. A good meeting is one where everyone thinks it could’ve gone longer. A bad meeting is one that everyone things went too long.