5 Better Business Meetings Tips
Meetings may not be popular, but they are necessary if organisations are to develop ideas and make decisions about the future direction of the company. So if meetings are so important why do so many employees openly despise them? The answer is, not the meetings themselves, but the way most business meetings are conducted.
So in this article, we will look at five ways companies of all sizes can make meetings more productive and enjoyable for everyone involved:
1. Prepare an agenda
Having an agenda is one of the most important things to get right when preparing a meeting. When technology giant Sharp asked attendees their biggest reasons for poor meetings, almost a third mentioned not having an agenda beforehand. Because how can people be expected to prepare for a meeting if they don’t know what it’s about?
An agenda can also help employees decide if a meeting will be productive for them. How many meetings have you been to where you’ve been sat there for an hour thinking ‘why am I here?’. So don’t invite people just to make up the numbers. Prepare an agenda and send it to a list of essential employees. Then let everyone else decide if the meeting is an appropriate use of their time.
2. Only invite people who need to be there
With apps such as Microsoft Teams and Google Groups arranging meetings is easier than ever. But that doesn’t mean you should start inviting anyone and everyone to your meetings. You should only invite people who are essential to moving the project forward. Research from Harvard Business School states that the most productive meetings have fewer than 8 people. If you find your meetings have much more than this, ask yourself do they need to be there.
3. Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings
Meeting rooms are often in short supply but if at all possible try to ensure there is a gap of at least 15 minutes between meetings. This allows people from the previous meeting to vacate the room before you arrive. Arranging meetings 15 minutes apart will reduce the amount of time wasted in changeover and allow the meeting to get started without delay.
4. Shorter is better
Much research has been carried out into peoples’ attention spans and how they affect productivity levels. Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project, for example, states that people can only maintain peak performance for a maximum of 90 minutes. In Sharp’s survey, most respondents said they could only concentrate for around 45 minutes.
The lesson here is simple, keep your meetings shorter than 90 minutes and preferably less than 45 minutes. If you think the meeting will run longer, schedule breaks every 45 minutes to keep everyone refreshed. If you have a lot of subjects to cover, it may be wise to break them into separate meetings rather than schedule one mega meeting.
5. Create different meeting spaces
Not all meetings are the same, some meetings require creativity, some need careful consideration of financial projects while others are intimate one-to-one meetings. To get the best out of each meeting, they should be held in different types of setting.
For example, we know from biophilic research that natural light, plants and bright colours can help stimulate creative thinking processes. So creative meetings should be held in large open plan meeting rooms with lots of natural light and bright colours. This is an issue because two-thirds of respondents to Sharp’s survey said they only have access to one type of meeting room. No wonder then most people find meetings boring and unproductive.
The solution is to design a range of meeting rooms to meet specific purposes. Some rooms should have comfy chairs and sofas, while others should have large open spaces with lots of natural light. Of course, these types of meeting room are inappropriate for board meetings which will still require a more formal setting.
Meetings don’t have to be boring. Now you know how to make your meetings more effective and productive it’s time to start implementing these ideas in your company. Most of them don’t cost any money so you will start to see the benefits almost immediately. And one thing is for sure, your employees will thank you for it.