It’s not enough to get people together (in person or online) and hope for the best. At the DMI, we’ve done a lot of studies on how meetings work and how to run them best. Here are ten simple tips to help you run a good business meeting in person or online.
Make a clear plan
When you have little time and a lot to do, like most managers, a meeting with no goal is a drag. Send out a plan before the meeting so people know what to expect and if they need to prepare anything.
You can also show it on a screen or print it out (for a face-to-face meeting) to help things go quickly. This is especially important for online talks where people work from home and may need to be updated on a project or campaign.
It helps bring the meeting back on track if it’s going off on a tangent or splitting into smaller talks. For instance, “That’s a good idea, but not right now. “Let’s talk about it at the next X meeting.”
Know what you want to happen
You should know immediately what you want to get out of the meeting. Do you want some ideas? Do you need to get someone to agree to a budget? Is it to help team members work through a challenging project?
Ensure you know what you want, and work hard during the business meeting to get what you want. In the last few minutes of the meeting, everyone should talk about the next steps and decide who will do them. It helps you make a clear plan of action that everyone knows about.
You should also ensure that everyone you ask has something to do or is part of the team or project. If someone could be doing something else, save their time.
Make sure you’re in the right place
With remote and hybrid work, talks can happen anywhere these days. The important thing is to choose the best way to hold the meeting, whether online or in person.
Online, it’s easy to run operational talks quickly. For example, a daily or weekly team catch-up or sprint is easy to run if you do a panel and leave time at the end for questions.
You can also run business builder meetings from afar if you have a clear plan. Use screen share to share presentations, slides, and other images so everyone can see the same information.
Strategic direction talks are about thinking about the past, developing new ideas, and brainstorming, so they are best done in person. Consider the coworkers who need to be involved and try to find a way that works for everyone. There should be room to work around people’s situations, like giving remote workers plenty of notice so they can get to the office, but keep sight of the goal and what you want to happen.
Come up with talking points
If you’re in charge of a meeting where people need to come up with ideas or discuss, you should bring critical points to discuss. These will be based on the project and its results, but you can use them as a guide during the meeting if you find that people need to be more on-topic.
You could ask people what they thought about questions written on a whiteboard. For instance, if you’re meeting to talk about a marketing campaign that didn’t do well, you could ask, “What did you like about the campaign?” “What could we have done better?”
This method may give you many answers, but it also allows you to see if there’s a consensus in the room that you can use to help other projects or improve performance.
Let everyone have their say
Even though everyone has a job and a part, these can be set aside for the meeting. Developing new ideas or plans can take time and effort if everyone talks about their job. For example, the marketing manager can only talk about marketing.
Pay attention to who is there and let people talk. Remember that each person is different. Some people are more outspoken, while others may need to be pushed to say what they think. Take charge and ask team members questions if they have yet to have a chance to say anything.
It’s often about getting along with different people, so if you feel like one or two people are taking over the talk, try asking questions or giving everyone a chance to speak. It would help to have the camera on in an online meeting because it makes it more personal. You might also want to use the stop button so the person talking can talk without interruption and the “hands up” button or something similar to let people ask questions or say something.
Ask for ideas and answers
If the goal of your meeting is to find answers or come up with ideas, this is an excellent way to start. Ask people to write down two or three pictures before the meeting.
Then, ask everyone at the table to share their ideas. After each one, ask for views and feedback and write them down (or give them to the person responsible for taking notes). Please ignore who says the thought but to the idea itself.
You could do the same thing for ways to deal with problems. For example, “It’s hard to reach young people between 18 and 25. What can we do?”
By asking people to do this, you have given them time to prepare and avoid being surprised. It will also give people less likely to speak up a chance to do so.
Pay attention to the time
It’s easy for talks to go on longer than planned. If you put a time slot on someone’s schedule, remember that they’ve designed other things around it, so it’s your job to be aware of it.
People will learn to follow the meeting time if you always start and end on time. It’s about building stability and making sure everyone knows what to expect at each meeting so that it doesn’t spill over into other work or cause someone to miss the start of another session!
If you’re having a long meeting, plan some breaks to check your email or get more coffee.
Make the following steps and tasks clear
When a meeting goes well, everyone knows what to do next. At the end of every session, take some time to talk about the next steps. Also, ensure the meeting ends well so everyone feels energized.
There should be a job and then someone to do that job. Let everyone in the meeting say something, or if it’s clear that someone’s career includes a specific task, ask, “Is it okay if I give that one to you, X?”
After the meeting, it’s important to share any notes or conclusions so there are clear understandings and everyone knows what to do. The messages in a shared document or folder can help everyone keep up with the latest changes.
Ask for comments
Even if you think a meeting went well or that catching up every day is very helpful, others may have differing views.
Choose a schedule that works for you and ask people what they think. Most of the time, a month is enough for people to judge how well a meeting went.
Don’t force anyone to give their view. Instead, just let everyone have their say and make it sound good. For instance, “Is there anything you think would improve these meetings or be more useful for you?”
It’s also a good idea to do an audit of how many meetings people are going to. Some people think having three talks is the most they can get done in a day. So, ask yourself if it’s hard for people to do their work and attend meetings.
1. How can I ensure my meetings stay on track and within the allocated time frame?
Utilize a structured agenda and appoint a timekeeper to help keep discussions focused and timely.
2. What are some techniques for engaging participants during a meeting?
Encourage participation through open-ended questions, interactive activities, and opportunities for input.
3. How can I handle disruptions or off-topic discussions during a meeting?
Gently redirect the conversation to the agenda or schedule a separate discussion for unrelated topics.
4. What’s the best way to follow up after a meeting to ensure action items are implemented?
Distribute a clear summary of decisions made, action items, and deadlines, and regularly check in on progress.
5. How do I choose the right technology for virtual or hybrid meetings?
Consider the needs of your team and select platforms with user-friendly interfaces, reliable connectivity, and necessary features.
6. Are there any strategies for making remote participants feel more included in meetings?
Ensure they can access all necessary documents and materials, actively involve them in discussions, and encourage their input throughout the meeting.
Incorporating these expert tips into your business meeting strategies can transform how your team collaborates and achieves its goals. Remember, a well-run meeting is not just a gathering; it’s an opportunity to inspire, innovate, and move forward purposefully. By applying these insights, you’ll be on your way to conducting highly effective meetings that drive productivity and success.