As a business owner, meetings can be the lifeblood of your organization… or they can be a complete waste of time and money. Which it is really depends on whether your meetings are productive. With that in mind, the 10 strategies below can help to take your get-togethers from unfocused and draining to incredibly effective, for better time spent and a more financially successful small business.
- Turn on the timer
The average manager’s attention span clocks in at 52 minutes, according to Ifop. Meanwhile, the average meeting runs about 1 hour and 19 minutes, with 68% of managers at small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) hosting meetings that last longer than 60 minutes.
Longer meetings don’t necessarily mean better ones; people can only focus for so long. Try capping all discussions at 30 or 60 minutes, with exceptions made only for special occasions. Not only will people stay more focused for the duration, but attendees will also be forced to be concise, leading to more efficient gatherings.
Bonus: Ruling your time is one of the greatest perks of becoming an entrepreneur. Could you name 9 others?
- Ask one question
Say goodbye to knee-jerk gatherings. In addition to shortening your office meetings, you should also ask one question before scheduling one on the calendar: “Is this necessary?” All too often, the material discussed in meetings can be settled via email, phone call, or quick face-to-face chat.
This goes not just for new, upcoming meetings but also ongoing ones as well; if weekly status update meetings are superfluous now that a big project is off the ground, don’t continue them just out of habit.
Tip: Speaking of questions, discover the 7 biggest questions that your customers wish you asked.
- Uninvite optional attendees
Who absolutely needs to be in each meeting? It may be a much smaller number than the current attendee list, which can unnecessarily crowd the room and eat up everyone’s time. Be honest when identifying essential stakeholders and cut out optional attendees.
- Set one priority
If you meet with your team infrequently, it is tempting to try to fit everything into one meeting—questions, recent updates, suggestions for improvement, team deliverables. The problem with this method is that you spend allotted meeting time playing catchup or wandering off-topic rather than focusing on the factors that drive progress.
Go into each meeting with one action-related priority for progress. In other words, clarify the single, overall purpose of the meeting to set clear expectations for all involved. If you have not achieved your objective by the end of the get-together, assess why the group ended up off course.
- Require meeting prep
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Sometimes the most important part of a meeting comes before the actual meeting itself. Require that all participants prepare their main talking points/agenda items beforehand (at least a few days ahead if possible) in order to collect their thoughts and identify what they need from others. Prepared attendees make for more efficient meetings.
- Circulate an agenda ahead of time
If everyone has done their prep work, it should be easy to circulate an agenda ahead of the meeting—at least one day out. That way, everyone has time to review the itinerary and get on the same page.
- Implement a no-phone rule
92% of professionals multitask during meetings, according to Fuze. Much of this distraction involves smartphones, such as checking email or browsing the internet. Nip this in the bud by implementing a strict no-phone rule at meetings. Have everyone turn off their smartphones at the door or leave them in their bags.
- Trade audio for video
Remote teams can present more of a challenge when it comes to minimizing distractions, as you can’t necessarily tell if attendees are checking email during team conference calls. Address this by trading audio calls for video calls. Video meetings will force everyone to focus and can also:
- Facilitate sharing visual aids
- Lead to greater engagement and understanding of concepts (93% of communication effectiveness involves non-verbal cues)
- Foster closer team relationships
Tip: The right body language can make or break your interactions. Leave a good impression with these 8 expert tips.
- Nominate a moderator
We’ve all been to those meetings that were dominated by one large personality. Let everyone have a voice by nominating a moderator to rein in dominant speakers, pull quieter participants out of their shell, and get the conversation back on track when it derails. If no one volunteers, try rotating this responsibility among team members.
- Share key takeaways
Just like preparation beforehand, post-meeting wrap-up is key to effectiveness. Require the moderator to send everyone a brief email of takeaways within 60 minutes of the meeting’s conclusion to assign key tasks and transform talk into action.
More effective meetings are just one way to build a better small business. Find dozens more time management, financial, and marketing tips in
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