How to make meetings more effective in your SMME

As a manager or business owner, you’ll find that most of your day consists of meetings. Meetings are an essential way to bring people together, discuss ideas, come up with solutions and build the relationship that will grow your business. However, most people tend the dread the word “meeting”. It evokes a sense of a waste of time and resources. Meetings that are unorganised and not well conducted do tend to be unproductive and a waste of time. In fact, a study by Harvard Business Review have evidenced it.

However, you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) ban meetings altogether. Meetings ensure that you can get messages across to your employees and enable you to satisfy and acquire clients/customers. Executive and management, can ensure the organisation conducts successful meetings that are both productive and motivate everybody involved. The ability to run effective meetings can greatly improve your employee’s output and help create meaningful connections with clients. Remember, time is money and, as a small business, you want to make sure everyone is making the most of their time. Here are some ways to ensure your meetings deliver value to justify the time they take out of the participant’s workday.

Schedule Shorter Meetings

The truth is, meetings tend to expand to fill the time you assign to them. If you schedule a 1-hour meeting, even if you could have achieved the outcome within half an hour, chances are the meeting will still take the full hour. Attributing a shorter amount of time to meetings instills a sense of urgency. At times, having too much time encourages people to go off-topic and bring up irrelevant conversations. The best way to ensure the meeting is productive and only takes required time, is to schedule shorter meeting. Be realistic when setting up meetings. If an outcome can be achieved in 20 minutes, then schedule a 20-minute meeting and so forth.

Demand Punctuality

Sometimes things happen and people aren’t able to arrive on time. That’s understandable once in a while, but it does often disrupt the entire flow of a meeting. Having to start a meeting late or having someone rush in late and having to get them up to speed, takes away valuable time. You need to demand punctuality in your organisation. It’s an effective way to keep meetings on track. If a meeting is scheduled to start at 9:30, it should start at 9:30 and not a minute later. Don’t waste time sitting around waiting for people to join or getting latecomers up to speed. Develop a habit of being punctual and other people in your organisation will follow suit.

Get Everyone Engaged

The point of inviting individuals to a meeting is that you believe they will find value in what is discussed and that they should be able to add value. Oftentimes people just join meetings out of obligation. The problem with this is that someone who joins a conversation just because they have to, won’t feel compelled to engage. One way of getting everyone to speak from the onset is to start with an icebreaker that everyone can contribute to. Just the act of saying something at the beginning of the meeting can encourage members that wouldn’t usually speak up to contribute later on. Another approach is making meetings mostly optional, that way you know the people who attend chose to and are more likely to participate. Another simple way is to simply ask questions. Speak directly to people and directing questions to individuals also gives them the opportunity to have their opinions heard.

Know the Outcome

What’s the point of having a meeting? You need to have a clear sense of what you’re trying to achieve and the outcome you expect by the end of the meeting. If you can’t clearly state why people need to come together and what you’re trying to accomplish, there’s no point in having a meeting. Here’s an interesting way of planning your meeting to ensure you prioritise your outcome: Draw a mind map (Or even just visualise one) with your outcome in the center with the arrows around the mind map pointing to the elements to achieve that outcome. The different points around the outcome should form your agenda. You can also set aside the last 5 minutes of the meeting to restate what you have accomplished and what the actionable items going forward. Also, minutes of the meeting with deliverable points are helpful, as people will know what is expected of them.  

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