Run An Effective Business Meeting (written April, 1998)

Making meetings more productive is critical to your businesses health. Even for the smallest of home business. When I started many, many years ago, I held meetings in my house with my wife.

When you have a meeting, you are using more time than just one person’s time. You are using everyone’s time who attends the meeting. That can take away from selling or other important activities.

If you have to pay some for the people who attend, like consultants, lawyers or accountants, you could be paying by the hour for one or more people to attend your meeting. It is therefore very important to plan ahead to have successful meetings. It worked for me.

What is the first step to improve your business meetings?

The first step in improving the efficiency of your business meetings is to recognize that meetings are collaborative efforts. The very definition of a meeting is a team activity where select people gather to perform work that requires group effort. Each participant in a meeting therefore must play a role in remaining focused and progressing through the meeting in a timely manner.

What should a home business owner do to make sure a meeting is effective?

Before calling a meeting, it must first be decided whether it is necessary. Remember a meeting is not always the most effective way. Other options available might be sending a memo or an e-mail. It is the responsibility of the meeting solicitor to determine the need for calling the meeting and who should attend. In general it is best to invite as few participants as possible (key players only). The solicitor must also review the organization’s calendar, reserve the meeting room and assign a meeting facilitator to be in charge of the agenda.

Here are some examples or rules that made my meetings more effective?

The primary role of the leader is to establish the ground rules for the meeting, which are namely: to minimize confusion and disruptions and to institute a code of conduct. The following are examples of the team game rules I used to make my meetings more effective: 1) If you are planning to introduce a proposal or discuss an issue in a group meeting, send out any relevant information to all team members several days before the meeting. 2) Review the agenda and bring any relevant materials with you to the meeting so that the group can make informed decisions. 3) Don’t lobby a few members before the meeting and try to ram an idea down the throats of the rest of the group in a “surprise attack.”  Keep issues above board and inclusive. “Fight fair.” 4) Come to the meetings on time. 5) If you are going to be absent, inform others beforehand and send a stand-in who can make at least some decisions in your name. 6) Focus on listening and seeking understanding before disagreeing. 7) If you are the recorder, distribute complete and accurate minutes to everyone within 48 hours after the meeting. 8) If you agree to something, do what you say you will do. Be accountable to each other. 9) Sarcasm, personal attacks, interrupting, dominating the discussion or engaging in distracting behavior during a meeting are all non-productive behaviors. Agree not to engage in them. 10) It is okay to disagree during a meeting, but once the group has made a decision, it needs to be supported by everyone when outside of the meeting. Passive resistance, sabotage, negative gossip and guerrilla warfare are not okay. 11) Remember to celebrate successes and to thank members for their efforts.

What else can be done to make your meeting effective?

It is as equally important to end a meeting efficiently as it is to conduct it. Besides just ending a business meeting on time, there should be a review of agenda items and results, as well as assignments. A set agenda for the next meeting should also be prepared. Also follow up after the meeting. Make sure that those who were delegated tasks or who have action items do them. Otherwise the meeting will probably be a waste of time.

This is how I build my local networking business years and years ago. It still works today!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.