Some useful tips on planning and conducting a business meeting

The “new thinking” that often pervades Business Management text books, business
seminars and training courses are that business meetings are a waste of time.

Whilst it’s true that an over-abundance of unproductive meetings are no
good to anybody, business meetings still have an important role to play
in business 
decision making, delegation and communication.

To remove some of the negative associations of “Business Meetings”
it is important that they are planned and conducted as effectively as possible.

Planning a Business Meeting

It is worth asking ourselves the following questions:

1. Is the meeting absolutely necessary?
Do you need to call the whole department if only a few members hold the relevant information? Can an alternative to the meeting (such as a conference phone-call, group email, etc) be as effective.

2. Who is required to attend?
Keep the numbers as small and specific as possible. Smaller groups are more productive and it is much harder getting larger groups to reach agreement and stay on track. If necessary, it can be a good idea to invite people to certain sections of the meeting. An example of this is meeting with the supervisors and then having the staff in at the end of the meeting to communicate the decisions reached.

3. Has an agenda been circulated?
Having an agenda keeps people focused and adds much needed structure to the meeting. Ensure that the agenda circulated ahead of time and it is as clear and concise as possible.

4. Are visual aids required and understood?
Visual aids help get points across quickly and succinctly. When conducting a meeting you need to ensure that the data is accurate, understand where it fits with the agenda and try to anticipate any likely questions.

Conducting the Meeting

The following tips will help you conduct a business meeting:

1. Always start at the assigned time
The agenda has been circulated in advance so everybody knows the correct start time. Waiting for latecomers, or stopping the meeting to tell them what they have missed will make the meeting run over time. This will inconvenience those that did make it on time. Also, if people know you will start without them they will be inclined to improve their time management for your next meeting.

2. Start with the easier issues
Start with easily resolvable issues first and leave the more challenging ones until the end. By solving the easier problems first, the participants will have developed a sense of rapport and successfully exercised their problem solving skills. It will also help the overall productivity of the meeting getting the easier tasks resolved first. You will then know exactly how much time you have left for the weightier problems.

3. Be strict with time management
Try to plan an amount of time for each agenda item and stick to it. If the dialogue is going in circles or no solution looks imminent then note the progress made and move on. Don’t try to force a resolution as some issues could take weeks or months to resolve.

4. Continue unresolved topics at later meetings
It’s always best to try and resolve as much as possible in the original meeting. However, new problem may come to light, or more data could be required to solve certain issues. Make a note of all unresolved issues and schedule them for the next meeting, or arrange a smaller meeting with the individuals directly connected to the issue.

We hope you find this information of value


The BSN Team