Business meetings are a part of your schedule irrespective of what field you are dealing in. Today’s leaders often recognize the power of smaller and briefer meetings. Shorter meetings are often easier to schedule and fit in to everyone’s calendars. Shorter meetings often tend not to get bogged down in too much detail or sidetracked by tangents. More gets done. So, let’s discover a few ways to help you streamline business meetings:
1. Clear communication is the key
Every meeting needs to have a clearly stated objective. While the reason may be clear in the mind of the person organizing the meeting, to others it may not be nearly as clear. Instead of a cryptic description, meeting invitations might state the objective in terms of the result expected, such as, “The objective of this meeting is to redesign our company newsletter.”
2. Add an agenda to the calendar invitation
Outline a brief agenda and include it in the emailed meeting invitation. Train your team to review agendas in advance and show up prepared. They can think about the agenda topics, look up facts and figures in advance, and come in with suggestions. To access the agenda, people just pull up the meeting invitation—no hunting around for a separate document.
3. Cut short the participant list
While it might seem efficient to include everyone in one giant meeting, the opposite is often true. Inviting people who aren’t essential may waste their time, and may make it harder on others who are essential. The more people, the longer a meeting tends to take. People who are bored and typing emails in the background of a conference call, or responding to instant message pings, may be a distraction to everyone else.
4. Stick to start and end times
Meetings should always start on time and end at time. To do that, the organizer must often manage the discussion and put limits on each agenda item. For example, if it’s an hour long meeting with six agenda items, the organizer may need to bring discussion to a close on each agenda item after 10 minutes. If you haven’t finished everything for that agenda item in the time allotted, consider scheduling follow-up actions.
5. Have a clear leader
One of the quickest ways for meetings to get sidetracked is when too many people try to take control, or go off on tangents. Even if more than one person is sharing information, it typically helps to have one leader—or facilitator—who’s in charge. Being in charge doesn’t mean monopolizing the conversation. On the contrary, it means making sure everyone who has something to contribute has a say. Team members in your company should be made aware that the leader’s role is to keep the meeting moving.
Ideally, key decisions, brainstorming “aha moments,” and to-do’s should be captured. This is one of the key factor which will help you streamline business meetings. Consider leveraging technology for taking notes. If you’re using a meeting room with a whiteboard or a flip chart, you might snap a picture of the notes with a camera phone. Later, those notes can be transcribed.
Or use a notes app, like Evernote. There are also drawing/handwriting tools that let you take handwritten notes and transform them into text.
7. Follow up mail
After your meeting, participants will hopefully feel confident about what’s expected of them. To be sure you’re on the same page, a simple follow-up email may be effective. Or simply list to-do items and assign responsibilities in a shared cloud document, if that’s what you used to take notes. If a follow-up meeting is required, consider setting it before ending the first meeting, so it doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Get your team to understand these ways and buy in, and hopefully these tips will be helpful for you to streamline business meetings.