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How To Have A Business Meeting That Doesn’t Waste Your Time

There are ongoing jokes at many companies about the uselessness of meetings and how meetings are created just to make people feel busy. Some businesses have meetings to discuss meetings which is madness.

With the world waking upto the fact that zoom and teams meetings or even dare I say it phone calls are all highly acceptable ways of having meetings this is becoming more of an issue. Being underprepared, underdressed in some cases or just carefree a business meeting is a business meeting and should be seen that way as crucial and respected.

I have always thought it absolutely critical that if you decide to have a business meeting that everyone involved approaches the meeting with objectives in mind, having a nice chat and a coffee is ok if that is your objective as a relationship builder or enhancer but often having clearly defined objectives makes the whole thing that much more satisfying and productive.

Here are some of my thoughts on making those meetings work well for you, your business and everyone involved

1. Have a Purpose

If you don't have a  purpose for a meeting, you shouldn't need to have one. You should be able to state in five to eight words exactly why you are planning a meeting. If you can't, reconsider. Does it really warrant a meeting or is it more worthy of an email or quick phone call?

2. Write an Agenda

Based on your purpose statement, write a meeting agenda.This may sound rather formal but how many times have conversations veered off topic and then you have to dash off or you have walked away from the meeting and forgotten to ask or talk about something, I used to do this all the time and it just leads to frustration as you then have to pick up the phone again or send another email.

3. Set a Time Limit

Meetings do not have to be long to be productive. Some companies have a standard 15-minute meeting rule. It's used to simply report on what each person has done or needs to do to meet a goal, or to update on a project. If you set a time or duration for that meeting it will help to keep the focus on the discussion, of course, this doesn't have to be set in stone and should be slightly flexible so you don't finish the meeting with unanswered discussion points. in any business time management is important and with meetings virtually or in person the time aspect can make a big difference to the energy level of that meeting.

4. Don't try to cram too much in

For a meeting to be productive it's really important you don't overload the meeting with ‘too much information'. This comes down to two things firstly what you think can sensibly be dealt with during the allocated time and secondly the people involved, people process information differently so consider the fact that maybe you might overwhelm the other person with too much information or on the other hand you may feel like you haven't really achieved anything if you keep the agenda too short.

5. Distraction Free

Multitasking at meetings is very counter-productive. Tell those who are invited to the meeting to let others in the office know you are in a meeting if its a phone meeting, if its a face to face meeting turn your phone to silent don't be that person that sits there fiddling whilst you are talking about something important.It may be over zoom or teams so close the door tell your family you are busy even get a sign on your ‘office door' saying you are busy Ultimately be present  AT the meeting completely and the result will be a lot is achieved.

6. Only invite those that NEED to be there

Only invite the people to the meeting that will have something to do. There is no point in having anyone at a meeting or part of a meeting if they aren't going to contribute to the meeting. For instance, if you have client and their project manager, invite them, but there is no reason to invite the people they manage.

7. Start and End on Time

Set a start time and an end time, and stick to it. Start on time and don't allow late people to show up late. If they're late they simply miss the meeting. The reason is that late people, for whatever reason, will cause delays and interrupt the flow often you have to go back over things that have already been talked about. Using an online booking system like Acuity scheduling will send reminders for people that have booked a time slot with you. If its a face to face meeting it can still send an email reminder the day before

8. Don't be a conversation hogger

Meetings are a two way conversation and in the heat of enthusiasm and excitement it can be very easy to talk talk and talk some more without using one of your most valuable business assets…your ears. Remember to listen as much if not more than you speak and let the conversation flow fluidly so everyone contributes to the success of the meeting

9. Assign Someone as the Record Keeper

Decide who should be the note taker, including writing down who is assigned what task. This person will within a specified time send everyone a copy of the meeting minutes, which will include a list of tasks and to whom they're assigned. Of course if you have a virtual meeting via a meeting platform it's quite possible as I tend to do when coaching our clients to record the whole conversation so only bullet points are often needed

10. Follow Up if necessary

After a meeting is over, it's important to follow up with any action points or further information that's needed, but also to drop everyone who attended an email with the meeting minutes (as mentioned above) as well as an opportunity to edit the record. In this way, you can ensure that everyone who attended is on the same page and it was all understood. It's amazing at just how many people don't follow up when it's essential whether that be for a new client opportunity or an existing project that needs action being taken.

Meetings are necessary for a business and for most it's unavoidable. However by using these few tips then you can ensure that every meeting you have is one that moves you and your business a step forward to success rather than a step backwards.

Remember to book in your meeting with me to discuss your business here  and I guarantee it will be productive

Kevin Arrow
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