As a business owner, there are many critical factors that you will need to consider to ensure the that your organization is running smoothly. Whether you are considering which technologies to use or how to adopt cloud computing, you will have many important decisions you will be faced with. But if you ask any entrepreneur, they will quickly tell you that productivity and time efficiency will be just as essential which is why you will need to learn how to lead effective business meetings.
Keeping meetings on track and on time can feel like herding cats at times. Multiple agendas pop up and discussions get side tracked and before you know it, the time is up and the main purpose for the meeting has been lost in the shuffle. To keep meetings focused, try these techniques.
Set a Clear Meeting Agenda
According to many business experts, when planning the meeting, make sure that the outcomes have been clearly decided. Once the outcomes are known, then work backwards to determine the methods needed to achieve those outcomes. Methods may include brainstorming, a presentation of facts and figures, outlining a process flow chart, and so on.
Circulate the Meeting Agenda
Send the draft meeting agenda out to ask for additional topic ideas. Make it clear that the business meeting will be carefully timed and ask that new agenda items that need a block of time need to be identified during the agenda circulation process. Set a deadline to receive input and new agenda items from attendees. Leave some flex room in the agenda for announcements and other new business from attendees that don’t follow directions or for items that come up through discussions.
Time the Agenda
Once you’ve established the clear meeting agenda, assign time estimates to each agenda item. “Once you’ve totaled the times allotted, you’ll be able to see if you need more than one meeting to accomplish your outcomes” says Sean Adams of Motivation Ping. “If you don’t want people to lose their motivation for your objectives, its important that they feel forward momentum towards your goals.”
Cut off the Verbose
Nothing makes a meeting go sideways than a verbose attendee who must rant and rave about some issue that is irrelevant to the core purpose of the meeting. As the leader of the meeting, it is critical that you keep a tight rein on side trackers and cut them off as soon as you feel a diatribe coming on. Gingerly explain that this discussion is better suited as an out-of-meeting or one-on-one discussion.
If time management during meetings is a real issue, purchase a large, clearly viewed table clock and put the timeline for the meeting on the agenda (i.e. in brackets beside each agenda item put the minutes allotted for discussion/presentation of that item). It is amazing how attendees will self manage when they can clearly see that there time is up.
Make sure someone has been assigned the task of taking minutes. Even for small meetings, recording what has been decided or new ideas that come out of discussions is invaluable after the fact. One time saving idea is to provide the minute keeper with a lap top so that the minutes can be quickly and easily formatted for circulation after the meeting – ideally within 24 hours.
Determine Actionable Items
As soon as an actionable item comes up, take the lead and identify to the minute keeper what the action is to be and who is responsible for the action. Format these items to stand out in the minutes and keep attendees accountable for their promises and assignments.