The Business Meeting Revisited – Waste of Time or Key Strategic Tool?

Few words bring such strong negative reactions as ‘business meeting’. As companies analyze their meeting times against results they often throw up their hands in disgust and conclude that meetings are a waste of time and of no use. Not so fast. While it is true that not having a meeting may be better than having a bad meeting, it does not follow that the business meeting itself is to blame. No matter how good the idea, if those that execute the plan fail then the project itself fails.

‘It’s a bother, it’s a pain, so little gets done, same old stuff, nothing ever happens, it’s always a bore, it lasts too long, and all we do is sit and listen to one or two people drone on about the company’s woes.’ Whine, whine, whine. Case closed.

And that’s the most difficult part; overcoming apathy and boredom from employees and managers that are jaded after continued exposure to bad meetings. It makes starting a meeting difficult and gaining momentum from that meeting even more difficult. The best place to start is to determine what results you would like to have from the meeting. This will guide you in determining the agenda.

The agenda should be written with a time allotted to each item. Meetings should rarely go over an hour especially if they start on time. Start exactly on time and you will ensure promptness at the next meeting. After each agenda item put the person responsible for reporting or moderating that agenda item so that someone ‘owns’ that agenda item. If you are starting business meetings make it a goal to spread the agenda items out to different meeting participants.

The first agenda item should be something light and not nuts and bolts financial. I like to bring up items such as image and attitude here. The last agenda item should be the next meeting’s time and place.

Don’t overload the agenda with too many items or too many heavy stress items if that is avoidable. If the business meeting becomes too negative it can dampen whatever enthusiasm it generates. Some agenda items can be ‘rolled’ over into the next agenda. Try to vary your agenda items for each meeting to keep the agenda fresh. That also means you should be discussing relevant and current topics.

Plan your agenda to end on an upbeat note. You really want the last impression of the meeting to be a positive one. If the meeting ends on a sour note it will leave a sour taste. If participation is important try to get each person present in the meeting to say something. This may be difficult at large meetings but in smaller groups it creates the impression of being a part of the meeting. Meeting participation can be a goal itself.

Some people tend to speak more than others so don’t let one or two people do all the talking. Especially you. It is best to have a moderator or leader. This person is responsible for opening and closing the meeting as well as making certain the agenda moves along in a timely manner.

It is possible to rotate moderators from meeting to meeting. This depends on the meeting participants, their capabilities and their willingness to participate.

Do not expect too much change too fast. It has been my experience that it might take several months of weekly meetings to reach desired results. And it is best not to create unrealistic expectations up front as they may sabotage your efforts.

It’s OK to disagree and disagreements often make for excellent meetings. As the moderator, it is your job to maintain calm and control. If everyone is yawning a good disagreement might even wake them up. After each meeting do a self-evaluation on how the meeting went. What could have done better? What went right? What did not go as expected?

And stay persistent. It is very hard to change either individual or group behavior and that’s what meetings are mostly about. Some call it behavior modification but perhaps changing the range of behaviors is more appropriate. Some call it training or education. And sometimes it’s art and sometimes it’s science but seldom is it predictable.

Often it doesn’t always work as planned. If you have a bad meeting shrug it off and see how you can improve the next one. Also try to stay in the right frame of mind and perspective so you don’t get frustrated too quickly.

There is no right or wrong way to have a meeting; just ways that make meetings more effective. The best strategy to make your meeting effective is to open it up, do what it takes to get participation and work through a relevant and prioritized agenda. Go with your gut and don’t be afraid of taking small risks to keep momentum. Even if you flop folks will see you are sincere and good things will happen.

The results just might surprise you.

Business Meetings Online – Catch the Wave of the Future

Are you new to business meetings online? If so, you need to get with the program! Holding business meetings online is becoming an accepted, even encouraged, practice in today’s enterprise. Hosting or attending business meetings online is an essential component of business communications.

Today’s online meetings are collaborative affairs. You can share applications and documents, send messages, and even work on the whiteboard. Online meetings are definitely revolutionizing the way people interact. No longer just a business tool, you’ll find religious groups, addiction support groups, and civic groups meeting online.

Several web sites have emerged that allow participants of online business meetings to exchange graphic files and images while eliminating the need for a video cam or web cam. An added bonus is there is no need for you and/or your meeting partners to download cumbersome software before the meeting.

Business meetings online, used appropriately, can save small business owners, and their clients, time and money. Note that I’m not advocating using an online meeting to cold-call or prospect with. First time meetings with potential clients are probably still best held face-to-face. But a follow-up meeting to answer questions? Definitely think about doing it online. Where a phone conference is a “tell” method of selling, the online meeting takes it to the “show-and-tell “method.

Other solid benefits of online business meetings are reduced expenses, higher productivity and increased time. These are mainly accomplished by eliminating travel time and expense. Rather than have the meeting attendees gather in one physical location, the World Wide Web is used to create a virtual meeting place that can be accessed with the proper login credentials.

Online meetings are a secure way to interact with your clients, business partners and team members. This makes them ideal for sales pitches, performance reporting or providing training for other members of your organization. Online meetings make audio communication possible by using VoIP (voice over IP) applications.

Online meetings are idea for organizing small impromptu meetings of fewer than 8 participants. This particularly benefits small businesses where interactions tend to be spur-of-the-moment and include fewer participants than in larger companies.

Business Meeting Agenda – Valuable Strategies

We will take a look at the agenda for a business meeting. This is the key to an efficient meeting and if badly considered becomes, not only a significant demotivator, but can waste a lot of time.

The meeting agenda:

To start with, you will only need an agenda if a meeting happens. It is simple to begin creating an agenda for a meeting in advance.

The agenda will be circulated at some time to those invited. Mainly for the initial meeting, to fulfill the meeting objectives, make the team as small as required. For regular official meetings the list of attendees should be consistent but could be different for further meetings.

The template:

Many meetings should adhere to a similar style, so employ a template. Features of the agenda might be the following:

Time of the item…

This is the beginning of the agenda item but it may also indicate the duration of the item. This would naturally go into the next item start time. This enables everybody to identify the length of time allotted to the item on the agenda and allows the chairperson to encourage attendees to keep to it.

The time in the agenda should permit an introduction and a review of the discussion at the finish, say 5 minutes in total.

Item title…

It should be included after dialogue and gaining the leader’s (see below) agreement, before producing the agenda. The length of the item should be agreed. Furthermore, the chairperson might ascertain from the leader if there are any expected results that may emerge from the presentation.

Item reason…

This component ought to describe the purpose for incorporating the agenda item and possibly any expected conclusions. This will help concentrate awareness on the major issue and should encourage people to consider it more ahead of the meeting. It enables the chairperson to keep the dialogues on track.

Allowing individuals to reflect more on every item, by illustrating it in this manner, will help to secure added contribution from a broader region than merely from the department of the discussion leader.

The topic leader…

This establishes the person who will guide the discussion of this particular agenda item. The leader has a duty in presenting the argument and defining any conclusion in a summary at the end.

Preparation…

This is an opportunity to determine anything that should be performed before the meeting in support of the agenda item. This is for all attendees and not just for the leader of the dialogue.

Apart from forearming people, and enabling them to effectively contribute in the meeting, it can help to speed up the discussion and thus achieve the outputs for the agenda item more speedily. This can save considerable time and decrease blank and uninterested faces at meetings.

Hence, headings for the agenda template might be ‘time, item topic, purpose, leader and preparation’.

Agenda ideas:

You might want to add additional items to the business meeting agenda apart from the main points for discussion. For example, ‘an introduction’ which could be used to suggest any specific problems but also to reiterate areas of the meeting policy.

You could like to end the meeting with ‘any additional business’. This enables the highlighting of any impromptu concerns but significantly offers a point for the chairperson to thank the attendees for their contribution to the discussions and to agree the date of the next meeting.

Attendee suggestions:

If you must send a replacement, make certain that the chairperson realises it. Offer a justification for your absence and identify any concerns that this action might incur.

If you are unable to turn up, can you present the required data to the chairperson in person? This will guard against using up the time of another person. The chairperson can then introduce the results of the dialogue in the slot for the agenda item.

Make certain that you get a distributed agenda in lots of time to consider additional items in addition to your own.

If you must leave the meeting at a specific time notify the chairperson, who may tell the meeting at the outset, just in case it could influence the presentation of a separate item.

It is just as much the responsibility of the leader of the dialogue to retain focus as the chairperson, particularly when faced with questions that could be wandering from the item purpose. Protracted discussions might be more effectively served by continuing them outside of the meeting.

The leader ought to complete the talk by summing up and spelling out the main points.

When, as an attendee, you are not happy with the format of the meeting, take it up with the chairperson external to the meeting. Don’t disrupt a meeting on a personal campaign.

If you turn up at a meeting go equipped and primed to contribute, and not just on your own agenda topic.

How To Plan and Select Meeting Rooms for Your Business Meeting

Business meetings can be staff meetings, sales presentations or business proposals to potential investors. When you have an important business meeting coming up, you need to make sure that everything is perfect if you want to make the proper impression. That is why you should take the time to find the right room and use the proper steps to create your perfect meeting.

Multimedia Presentations

Your meeting rooms need to be able to accommodate multimedia presentations. That means having a screen to project on to and a monitor to connect a computer to. The room should be arranged so that everyone can see the presentation and the presentation needs to be large enough to be clearly seen by everyone in the room.

Internet Connection

Social media and Internet tools are important parts of the new age of business meetings. Not all of your attendees that want to attend your meeting are going to be able to be there in person. But you can still allow important people to be part of your meeting by having an Internet connection and video-enabled computer in the meeting room.

The right kind of computer will allow people to use video conferencing services to see what is going on in the meeting and offer their insight as well. Your video conferencing software should allow remote attendees to share documents and make document changes in real time. Your meeting room computer should have an Internet-enabled video camera to allow your remote attendees to see what is going on in the meeting.

Many of the social media platforms allow for multiple people to utilize a single video conferencing system. This can be a great way to save money on video conferencing services for your company an your remote attendees.

Attendees

Create a list of attendees at least a month in advance and send out meeting notices as soon as possible. When you get your RSVP list, that will tell you how large of a meeting room you are going to need.

Utilize social media platforms to allow people to RSVP for the meeting, share insight into the meeting content and ask any pertinent meeting questions.

Agenda

A comprehensive meeting agenda, which includes meeting times and the names of people who will be making presentations, should be circulated to all attendees at least two weeks prior to the meeting. This will allow attendees time to prepare the materials they will need to attend the meeting and contribute.

Encourage attendees to ask agenda questions prior to the meeting so that all attendees may benefit from the answers. You can use social networking platforms to allow attendees to submit questions and then utilize those platforms to submit answers as well.

Each business meeting should have a defined purpose in order to get people to attend and contribute. When you spend the necessary time to prepare your meeting materials and find the perfect meeting room, then that will significantly improve the quality of your meeting.