Planning A Meeting, How To Nail It As An Business Owner
Planning a meeting can be a highly overlooked aspect of your operations and should be taken seriously in any business and effective time management strategy.
A poorly executed meeting can be a massive time-waster in a business, and if not planned correctly, it can lead to confusion and de-motivation of both staff and leaders alike.
This is why you must plan for a meeting beforehand.
This guide explores everything a business owner or leader should know about effectively planning and running a meeting to ensure it will benefit everyone involved.
Planning a meeting helps ensure the meeting is well thought out, structured, on topic, and stays within a reasonable time frame. A well-planned meeting will also have intent and an actionable conclusion.
Why Hold Meetings At All?
A successful meeting in business is essential for two main reasons:
- Ensuring a cohesive, strong working relationship between colleagues and stakeholders.
- Aligning your team towards a shared goal that everybody understands and wants to achieve.
Well-organised and structured meetings are a necessary medium for sharing information, encouraging open discussion, and providing constructive feedback while motivating your team to excel.
A fantastic meeting will leave your staff feeling connected, fulfilled, and valued – fostering a culture of trust and continuous improvement.
There are many key considerations in planning a successful meeting. As a leader, you should have an in-depth understanding of all of them.
Note: Your meetings should end with a positive note, adding value to the participants. Your team should feel like you value their time and input and that they are part of the discussion at hand.
Types Of Meetings
When planning a meeting, it’s essential to consider the reason for the meeting itself. Once the cause is understood, you can tailor your plan accordingly to ensure the meeting is relevant.
There are a few different types of meetings; some of the main ones are:
Status meetings are meetings where everyone gathers together to provide updates about what everyone is working on – it may involve a discussion on what is going well and what could be improved upon.
Report meetings consist of presentations reporting on the outcome of projects and analysing the results of those projects.
Briefings or kickoff meetings are held when you’re introducing a new initiative to your team.
They may involve introducing/presenting a plan, indicating its importance, and defining the problem that needs to be sold.
Tasks will be allocated to different participants.
Onboarding meetings involve gatherings to facilitate the introduction of a new employee – who will have a lot to learn if they want to be part of the team.
Brainstorming meetings involve your staff coming together to generate new ideas on a particular topic.
Budget meetings are all about money and where a lot of the tension in business lies.
In these meetings, you’ll typically discuss how much money you’re going to spend, where you’re currently spending money, what return on your investment will be and (often) where you need to cut back.
The above chart shows the average amount of time spent in meetings for each level in management.
Key Components Of Planning A Meeting
In these examples, we will assume you’re planning a meeting between yourself and your staff. When mapping out the layout of the meeting, make sure you include the following in your plan.
1. Clearly Define The Purpose Of The Meeting
Is the purpose of the meeting to make a decision or to solve a problem? Does the team need extra motivation to get tasks done to complete a project? Is the meeting about presenting a new initiative?
If the purpose of the meeting does not require a full meeting, there are alternatives to delivering information to staff members – emails or posts in a group chat.
2. Comprehensively Prepare
Organise precisely what will be said to staff members and how (e.g. via introductory speeches or by PowerPoint) and engage them in the process from the beginning by providing context.
The longer the meeting and the more unnecessarily stretched out it is, the harder it is for staff members to remain focused. All they will want to do is leave.
3. Give Clear Notice Of The Meeting
Communicate with team members in advance through traditional avenues such as emails and calendars, but also remind them in-person around the workplace.
This assists in planning, allowing organisers to determine if re-scheduling needs to occur.
In addition to giving notice, provide attendees with pre-reading to review materials and, if necessary, to start thinking about solutions.
4. Manage The Meeting Itself
Ensure that your meeting progresses under effective and disciplined leadership – you must act as an observer and a participant by ensuring that the meeting sticks to the topic and conforms to the timeframe.
You must also ensure participants have their timeframe for speaking and are aware of their time – this will maximise the efficiency of the entire meeting.
5. Give Individuals The Opportunity To Speak
A highly valuable leadership quality is an ability to engage others and encourage participation, this is crucial when planning a meeting for your team or colleagues.
You must ensure that key individuals can present and take part in the discussion. Make sure everyone is disciplined when someone is speaking.
Secondary conversations are unnecessary and can wait until after the meeting.
Anything that will impede on or disrupt the productivity of the meeting should be minimised.
Be clear about expectations of the meeting – are employees expected to contribute actively and discuss collaboratively or just listen?
6. Plan Of Action At The End Of The Meeting
Ensure all participants in the meeting understand the content of the meeting and the decision-making process (via majority vote, group consensus or a sole choice by you) that was undertaken.
After a decision is reached, you must establish a plan of action to achieve the desired result.
7. Work With Colleagues After Your Meeting
This is essential to gain insight into how the meeting turned out and determine how well it measured up to what you sought to achieve.
Analyse the meeting. Decide whether it was successful or not. Account for errors and ensure they don’t repeat.
You’ll also need to monitor compliance with any adopted plan and strategy to ensure its implementation.
Important Tip: Smaller meetings can be replaced through real-time collaboration using tools such as Monday.com. This will allow you to discuss, and provide feedback on activities without the need for a formal meeting.
Mistakes To Avoid
Common mistakes to steer clear of when planning a meeting:
Not defining the purpose– this will cause your staff to leave unfulfilled and feel like they’ve just wasted their time. Articulating the goal of the meeting will allow employees to arrive prepared and help make a critical decision regarding a project.
Not setting a clear time frame – if staff arrive late to the meeting and finish early (or finish late), that will demotivate the rest of the team trying to do the right thing. Emphasise punctuality.
Not motivating team members – guaranteed to lead to a lack of productivity. You need to structure meetings in a way that engages every single team member.
A great way to achieve this is to make each team member responsible for something particular to that meeting.
Ensuring the purpose of the meeting and the methods used to achieve that purpose is compatible – for example, if the problem requires a team effort to solve, having one individual dominating the conversation will cause the entire meeting to fail.
Getting off topic – when employees gather together, it’s easy to just talk about your life and have a friendly chat. You also might talk about another issue that may be important but has nothing to do with the meeting at hand.
Avoid this by saying words like “What an excellent idea. Let’s talk about that in the next meeting”.
Not following up – having a great team meeting is one thing, but failing to follow up on the action items later renders that meeting a waste. Establish follow-ups (see point #6 above) and ensure your plan’s implementation.
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