Business meetings are an important part of conducting business, and most companies rely on these meetings to discuss strategy and check-in with other departments. Failure to appropriately manage business meetings can waste a lot of time. You and your coworkers have a lot to do, so let’s figure out how to make your meetings productive.
Some people love meetings. Others hate them. Whether you love them or hate them, you don’t ever want to have the same meeting twice. Having the same meeting more than once to answer the same questions is a waste of time and will hurt productivity. Here is how you can make sure you make the most of your next meeting.
Set an Agenda
It sounds simple, but setting an agenda is an important part of the meeting planning process. Creating an agenda for each meeting lets every attendee know what will be discussed and what the meeting is meant to accomplish. Getting the agenda sent out to each participant before the meeting helps them to arrive prepared.
Gather Your Notes in Advance
Now that you’ve set your agenda and know what you would like to accomplish, make sure you have everything you need. Don’t waste people’s time as they wait for you to get organized. Bring all related documents to the meeting and request that others do the same. Being prepared shows that you are respectful of other peoples’ time and helps you reach your goals the first time, rather than having to schedule a second meeting to follow up.
Be an active participant in the meeting and use your influence to help steer discussions. It can be easy for a meeting to go off track. Some people struggle with sticking to an agenda and raise other topics that are not relevant to the agenda for this meeting. Before you know it, you have wasted 15 minutes talking about something that is not helpful or productive.
If this happens in your meeting, offer to add this new conversation to the agenda for the next meeting, and bring the focus back to the matter at hand. This ensures that you accomplish the goals you set for this meeting while respecting the time of everybody in the room.
Determine Next Steps
Don’t let this productive meeting go to waste. The best way to close out a meeting is with a discussion of next steps. Assign tasks and responsibilities with clear timelines and expectations. Define what success looks like, talk about what the goals are moving forward and set a plan for follow up. Failure to take this step will cause you to lose whatever progress you have made, so create an action plan while everybody is still engaged with you.
If you can master these steps, you will handle your next meeting like a rock star. Your managers and coworkers will appreciate your leadership and value-added participation. You never know, showing leadership in your meetings may get you noticed in surprising ways…and maybe even get you that promotion.