Some tips on conducting an effective business meeting

Dave Barry, a humour columnist has said “If you had to identify, in one word,business training the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.”

Is this the way even you feel when someone mentions “meetings”?
Do you avoid conducting or attending meetings? Here are some tips for you to make your meeting effective and if done effectively, meetings help teams to focus, establish targets, get new ideas and resolve issues, if any.

Conduct of meetings can be split into two main activities, the “Planning” and the ‘Execution” or “Conduct”.

To plan an effective meeting, you can delve on the following aspects

1. Is the meeting absolutely necessary? –
If the answer is in the negative, naturally, you need not call for a meeting. Managers, at times, have a habit of calling for a meeting early in the morning to ensure that the entire team meets before starting work. But, if there is no agenda, if there are no discussions to be carried out and if the tasks to be done by each member are already documented or decided, such meetings are a waste of productive time. If you need to talk to a few members, then only those members can attend a meeting or you can have a one-to-one discussion.

2. Do you have an agenda? –
A meeting is like a party or a get-together of colleagues if there is no agenda. The agenda of a meeting should list all points that you want to discuss in the order that you want them discussed, preferably with easier issues taken up first. Allot time for each point to be discussed. This ensures that the meeting can cover all the points that need to be discussed and still finish within the time allotted for the meeting. The agenda should have clarity and should be concise enough for the attendees to read before the meeting. This also means that the agenda should be distributed well ahead of time for people to be ready with their inputs wherever required.

3. Is the setup for the meeting done? –
A meeting can be conducted in a cabin or in a conference room and may or may not require visual aids. Based on all these requirements, an appropriate place for a meeting needs to be set up. The date, venue and time needs to be communicated to all the attendees well ahead of time so that they can ensure their attendance.

If you have answered all the earlier questions in the affirmative, you are ready to conduct the meeting.

While conducting a meeting –

1. Stick to the decided time – Start and finish on time; this is one of the most important aspects of conducting a meeting. Starting on time sets the right tone and then sticking to the time allotted to each point on the agenda will ensure that all points are covered within the allotted time.

2. Documentation – Document the minutes of the meeting for each point. If there are previous minutes to be discussed, and points to be looked at please do so. Ideally, you can have some time allotted before the start of the meeting to discuss the minutes and issues carried forward from the previous meetings. The minutes should have solutions or action items for each point that gets discussed. There should be a task owner for each action point and a target end date. Without this, the meeting will be ineffective. These minutes should be circulated to all concerned members.

3. Unresolved issues – In case there are any issues that have been left unresolved, do not exceed the time that was set for the meeting, carry these points forward to the next meeting. If required, the agenda and time for the next meeting can be decided in this meeting itself.

If at the end of the meeting, the team members are satisfied with the points covered and it has been time well spent for the business, you can safely say that you have conducted an effective business meeting.