Within small businesses, there’s often a loose approach to meetings. They might be little and often, or completely ad-hoc. In smaller teams, you might discuss strategy on an ongoing basis and never feel the need to sit down for formal meetings of any kind.
If you’ve previously worked within a corporate setting of any kind, this can be refreshing. After all, how many of us have sat through tortuous meetings that could have been emails?
Avoiding meetings for meetings sake is a must, not least because you will irritate people! However, planned properly, meetings are a uniquely effective communications tool that can give a voice to your whole business. Every successful, large organisation understands the value of effective meetings.
Meetings help communicate the bigger picture
An effective meeting brings the whole team together and generates enthusiasm for the task at hand. Your employees get the chance to share their ideas and can feel a part of something bigger than their day-to-day role.
Meetings also help your team to understand more about the company’s long-term goals which can increase employee engagement in the long run. Not only that, but meetings are also simply a great way to communicate and get to know each other better.
Do you think your business could meet more effectively? Creating a successful meeting strategy is probably easier than you think. All it takes is a small amount of planning – and maybe a box or two of posh biscuits! A good place to start is by considering these six points:
What’s the overall purpose of your meeting? What are you trying to achieve? It could be to run through current workload or re-cap previous jobs. Or maybe your meeting is to generate ideas for a particular project or client?
Whatever the objective, clearly define it and then share this information with the attendees. This way, everyone will understand what to expect and how to prepare correctly. This should help you get the most from your time together.
It’s important to set a specific length of time for your meeting and stick to it. Keeping an eye on the clock will prevent you from going off on tangents and help people keep focused. If you find you’re constantly running over time, check people are happy to extend the length of the meeting.
If you need to spend a little longer on something, that’s great, but it’s courteous to give people a clear idea of how much time they will need to put aside. The last thing you want to do is disengage people by eating into their day!
Scheduling your meeting at similar intervals is incredibly useful as it creates a structure that everybody can work around. For instance, if you set a daily or weekly ‘work in process’ meeting, everyone can be prepared to share their outputs at the same time every day or week.
Equally, let’s say you were to hold a regular sales meetings each quarter. Scheduling the meetings for the year ahead would allow the whole business to plan ahead and prepare effectively, leading to more useful discussions on the day.
Although you may want to be inclusive, it’s important that your team don’t feel obliged to attend meetings that they aren’t really needed at. This only breeds boredom and leaves people feeling like you’ve wasted their time.
Think carefully about which individuals should be invited and don’t be afraid to ask people if they are getting value out of the sessions. Meetings work better when everyone is engaged, so keep the attendee list to those who are able to contribute.
The first rule of running an effective meeting is creating an agenda. Whether this is a scribbled list or a 2 page document – it doesn’t matter as long as some thought has gone into it. For smaller meetings, sharing a few bullet points on what’s required and what will be decided should suffice.
However, for larger meetings, you may want to consider a structured agenda with sections of time allocated out to relevant stakeholders. This way, everyone gets their turn to speak, nothing is missed and you’re less likely to overrun the timings.
To make sure you don’t lose momentum following a successful meeting, assign someone the role of circulating the notes and/or actions. This will help to hold everyone accountable for their own tasks and (hopefully) mean people show up prepared the next time you meet!
Once you’ve created a few regular meetings for a select few purposes, you can then combine them into a strategy document. This helps you keep everyone informed of your meeting policy and what’s expected of them.
Here’s a quick example of a basic meeting strategy draw up for a manufacturing client:
Although the term ‘meeting strategy’ might sound official, you can see that establishing one is actually relatively simple! The benefits to your team and communications across the wider business can far outweigh the perceived ‘hassle’ of setting one up.
We hope the piece has given you a helpful overview. In the meantime, if you would like to talk about your meeting strategy or any other area or your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For more information or to discuss your current communications strategy with us, contact us on 0113 394 4559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.