Many SMEs and startups rely on collaboration and brainstorming to drive success. One way to promote and support the exchange of ideas is to have regular meetings.
However, it’s vital that meetings be kept short, sweet and productive.
Here we consider tips and strategies for ensuring that group discussions are always on time, on point and effective.
1. Schedule a suitable time
The scheduled time of a meeting can affect the way people interact and engage.
Avoid setting up meetings first thing on Monday mornings, or late on Friday afternoons. At these times, folk are generally tired, easily distracted and not really in business mode.
Scheduling a meeting mid-week, either late morning or early afternoon, is a good idea.
2. Prepare an agenda
Set an agenda for the meeting, and send it out at least a day beforehand.
An agenda is a blueprint that outlines exactly which points are tabled for discussion, and when – so it’s key to keeping a meeting focused.
Sending out the agenda at least a day in advance gives people time to organise their contributions and questions. It also makes it less likely participants will get side-tracked during the meeting.
3. Plan your contribution
Take time to get mentally prepared before the meeting. Think how best you can add value to a specific point or idea.
Plan your contribution, and prepare supporting documents, PowerPoint presentations, graphs, or spreadsheets to get your point across quickly and succinctly.
4. Start on time
Do not deviate from the scheduled time of the meeting. Make sure you’re on time yourself, and don’t hold up the meeting for latecomers unless there’s really no other choice.
5. Stay on topic
Be strict about not straying off the topic. It’s up to whoever is leading the meeting to structure discussions around the agenda.
Meetings aren’t social events; they take big chunks out of the work week, and can be counter-productive if not managed properly.
6. Impose a “no devices” rule
Impose a communications blackout throughout the meeting. Ask everyone to turn off their devices, and store them out of sight.
It’s annoying for others to be interrupted by ring tones or message alerts. With a “no devices” rule in play, you’re guaranteed more alert and engaged participants, and a more fruitful outcome.
7. Prioritise discussions according to importance
Prioritise points of discussion according to importance. That way, if the meeting is dissolved before all the points have been discussed or some of the attendees have to leave early, you will have dealt with the most pressing issues.
8. Close the meeting formally
Before participants run out the door, close the meeting properly. Quickly summarise what was discussed, what actions are to be taken, and by whom.
This is a great way to hold people accountable, and ensures that everybody knows who has to do what.
9. Provide written feedback
Re-cap exactly what happened in the meeting, what was decided and what still has to be dealt with in the future. Send the information to all attendees as a written record.
Meetings at The Workspace
At The Workspace, we know how important meetings can be, whether they’re with clients, business partners or colleagues.
That’s why all our branches provide members with access to professionally appointed boardrooms and meeting rooms. So whether you have a serviced office or use our coworking facilities, you can conduct meetings in a comfortable, professional space, with no distractions.