How to run more effective meetings

One of the likely least enjoyable aspects of managing your small business is hosting and running meetings with staff members and employees. For workers in the office, meetings are generally the bane of their existence – boring, unhelpful and a tremendous waste of time. However, the truth is that meetings are not only essential elements of any office, but can also result in tremendous innovation and boosts in productivity – if done right. Therein lies the problem, since many meetings are often poorly run.

“Don’t look at meetings as a bad thing, a time-consuming thing, a work-generating thing,” Mike Richardson, a management consultant, told Entrepreneur Magazine. “They can be a good thing, a time-saving thing, a work-flow thing. If the driver of agility is conversation, then meetings are the drivers of conversation. Better meetings equal better conversation equals better agility.

Here are some tips on how to more effectively run meetings at your small business.

Determine what type of meeting is going to be beforehand
The problem with many meetings is that they are regarded as necessary evils, with meetings often held for meeting’s sake. With such an attitude, it is not surprising that most employees and managers alike come to meetings with a dour attitude. Instead, be clear in your mind what type of meeting this is going to be. For instance, according to Inc. Magazine, action-oriented meetings are intended to solve a pressing or time-sensitive problem. For such a meeting, it is imperative that attendees come well-prepared with the problem and possible solutions in mind. These types of meeting usually feature strict agendas so that no time is wasted in pursuit of the answer.

Another type of meeting is the brainstorming or creative one. These meetings are generally more casual and informal, creating a welcoming and nurturing environment where employees can talk openly and bounce ideas off one another. When hosting such a meeting, it is important to establish guidelines and time frames. Churning out ideas openly can easily flow off-topic, so having guidelines in place well help keep everyone on track. Additionally, when good ideas are flowing, it is easy to lose track of time and have the whole day go by. Set a strict timeline for when the meeting will end and adhere to it, even if employees are still eager to share and discuss.

Visuals are very important
While your many employees will all likely be different types of learners, it is nevertheless essential to feature some type of visual element during your meeting. This not only has the benefit of relating better to visual learners – who typically struggle to listen to someone drone on endlessly – but can also help keep everyone, including yourself, engaged. As the host and leader, it is more authoritative if you are moving on your feet, referring directly to a presentation or a graphic.

You can’t get output without input
As an employee, there is perhaps nothing worse than having to go to a meeting and not even be acknowledged. You might as well be a plant in the corner, or not even have attended at all. As a manager, it is really important for you to constantly be seeking the opinions and input of your various employees. Set the tone early by soliciting opinions from the onset of the meeting, and the natural conversational flows will improve the meeting experience for all involved.

What are some aspects of the most beneficial meetings you have held?

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