How to plan and execute better business meetings

Many people complain about having too many meetings, or they say that meetings are generally inefficient.

It’s difficult to get anything done if you’re spending all your time talking about what you need to do, without ever taking action.

On the other hand, teams need to build common understandings and make decisions together — tasks that are best accomplished through meetings.

Let’s take a look at some good methods for planning and running meetings, and find out how can you accomplish what you need without wasting people’s time?

Planning the meeting
The best meeting planners start by developing a clear idea of what the meeting should accomplish, and with the focus firmly on this objective, they plan the venue and work out who needs to be present.

Are you trying to get a status update? If so, a stand-up meeting might be the most appropriate.

Some CIOs have weekly status meetings that last only 15 minutes, where the director chooses a place with no chairs so nobody gets too comfortable.

Then each person goes over the progress made in his or her area. The other attendees listen, and comments are kept to a minimum.

Alternatively, are you gathering people to make a decision? In this case, make sure all stakeholders are represented.

If necessary, leave time at the beginning to agree on what constitutes a decision. Is unanimity required? Is it by majority? Or is the boss the one who has the final say?

Finally, are you just trying to build relationships? Remote teams being so common these days, managers have to get people together to build trust and common understanding.

While they have no material goal, relationship-building meetings should still be structured and should have tangible outcomes.

Even if the objective is to build trust, the best way to get people to take the same side is to have them work towards a common goal.

Structuring the meeting
With a clear picture of what you’re trying to accomplish, you can now write an agenda. Plan your meetings to last no more than an hour and a half.

Many of the world’s most effective executives agree that anything longer than that is counter-productive. Next to each item on the agenda, write in who will lead that part of the discussion, and how long you think it will take.

Invite the people who need to be there and nobody else. If you have too many people, they might get bored and distract other attendees.

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