Steps for an Effective Business Meeting

May 24, 2019
Steps for an Effective Business Meeting

How to organize and make your business meetings more productive

How many times have you left a meeting thinking those issues could have been dealt with by email? Worse, how many meetings have you left without having had time to discuss all the items on the agenda?

This problem is quite common, especially if we consider that according to a study published by Atlassian, as an average, executives spend about 15 hours a week in meetings. “This sometimes happens due to generational differences, because there’s a group of people who prefer to meet—the Baby Boomers and Generation X—and another group that doesn’t,” explains Maritza Soto, professor of Business Administration at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.

To make your meetings more productive, we suggest following these steps:

  1. Define the meeting’s objective

The most important thing to do, once you’ve confirmed that you need to have a meeting, is to define the objective. “If you don’t have a clear objective, the meeting will have no clear direction,” stresses Angie Escalante, director of the Employee and Intern Services Program at the Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico.

  1. Draw an agenda

Once you’ve identified an issue that merits a meeting, you should make an agenda of the topics you want to discuss. “We Puerto Ricans have a tendency to go off trail, but if you draw up an agenda, you’ll have a guide with the topics you want to talk about,” Soto says.

For her part, Escalante notes that the agenda should be written, and should have a space at the end for discussion of other, non-vital issues.

  1. Choose the people who should be there

In most meetings, important decisions must be made. “If the people who actually make decisions aren’t there, you must go up the ladder to identify them in order to decide the issues dealt with in the meeting, and that takes time,” Escalante points out.

That’s why you must invite the people who are essential for the issues to be addressed in the meeting.

  1. Choose the right place

Although it may seem superficial, the time and place of your meeting are also important, Soto notes.

“The place will depend on the number of people attending and the technical resources you need for the discussion,” the Human Resources expert points out.

  1. Distribute the materials ahead of time

If you already have ideas about the subjects to be discussed, send them out ahead of time so that the group can take its time and analyze them.

“That way, the participants can come with a preliminary analysis, and that makes the meeting faster, without so much back-and-forth,” Escalante says.

  1. Take notes and recapitulate

We’re sometimes forgetful, so it’s vital to take notes during the meeting. This helps maintain order and prevents detouring off the agenda.

“Once the discussion of the issues is over, I recommend recapitulating. Say ‘these were the aspects of the problem we discussed, these were the conclusions.’ And then you decide what the next steps will be,” Escalante says.

  1. Send out the minutes

To ensure that all the attendees leave the meeting with their responsibilities clear, the ideal thing is to send out the minutes of the discussion. According to Escalante, that way the steps to be taken next and the responsibilities for achieving the goals and objectives will be clear.

“In the next meeting, you’ll be able to see what’s been accomplished and follow up on things you wanted to work on or solve,” she concludes.

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