Do you think all of your business meetings are as successful as you’d hope them to be? Inc. Magazine recently shared a stunning statistic that may burst your bubble, “Today's office professionals not only hate meetings—46% think at least some o
f the meetings they attend are a waste of time.”
When a meeting is not properly scheduled and planned, you could be just wasting your staff’s time and in turn, your company’s productivity levels. Here in our digital call center we have been holding daily meetings with our account supervisors and weekly meetings with our virtual receptionists for over 30 years. Allow us to share our top 5 tips when it comes to conducting effective meetings that serve a purpose and keep your employees engaged.
Nothing will waste time and bore your employees like a meeting that has been ill-prepared. Think about the main reasons you need to schedule a meeting of the minds with your staff. Decide on what you want accomplished prior to inviting your staff to take time away from their already busy schedules.
After you know the exact purpose of a meeting, draft up a detailed agenda to layout all talking points. Frame your agenda so that the meeting can transition easily from topic to topic. Include subsections if one topic umbrellas other areas that need to be discussed. Below each talking point, include a question or desired outcome that all attendees can consider prior to the meeting.
If you’d like to discuss specific sales, productivity or profit and loss numbers, include all data your team will need to be well-informed and confident to discuss in detail. Providing the specific data ahead of time will allow your staff to provide educated answers to any questions thrown around in the conference room.
Lastly, make sure you invite every employee or department that is directly involved with the topics to be covered in the meeting. You don’t want to be flowing with ideas on how to solve an issue, but then forced to couch the discussion because a decision maker is not at the meeting.
Designate a specific person to be responsible for taking minutes of the meeting for a final summary and/or transcript of what was accomplished. It doesn’t matter if you meet for 10 minutes or 3 hours, having an employee take notes will make the meeting more efficient and useful.
Your secretary of the meeting should take notes regarding:
Encourage the attendees to take notes during the meeting by supplying notepads and pens. Follow up with your team by immediately sending out a summary and/or transcript of the meeting.
Time is money. The faster your meeting accomplishments are reached, the faster everyone can return to their revenue generating tasks. Consider implementing these strict rules regarding distractions that often come up.
• NO Electronic Devices Allowed
In our blog, Modern Day Business Etiquette Tips and Advice, we shared that most professionals dislike disruptions caused by cellphones. “86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings and 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during formal meetings.
Have your staff forward their calls to assistants or receptionists while they’re in the office meeting. Or hire a live answering service to forward your calls whenever your staff is busy in a meeting.
With payroll and a halt on productivity, you’re investing a lot of money in gathering your staff for a meeting. Make sure you have their 100% attention to make the meeting as efficient as possible.
• DON’T Provide Food
Unless you’re conducting a meeting during general breakfast, lunch or dinner times, don’t provide food. While your staff is busy spreading cream cheese on their bagels or constructing a sandwich on their plate, they’re not giving the meeting their full attention.
Of course you should provide energizing food to your team if you’re scheduling a meeting at 8 am, noon or 6 pm. A hungry belly can be quite a distraction as well.
• FOLLOW the Agenda
You took the time to make the agenda, now it’s up to whoever is conducting the meeting to keep everyone on track. Don’t encourage off-topic discussions that steer the conference away from the initial goals set out in the agenda. Have your meeting secretary take down unrelated issues to be discussed after the meeting or at the next office conference.
To have effective meetings, you need to make sure you have a leader that is able to take control of the meeting when it runs off topic.
Providing your attendees with beverages will make your meeting more efficient in a few ways. Your staff is more likely to be punctual if they don’t have to stop and make themselves a coffee or tea prior to the meeting. They’ll be able to prepare their beverage without having to leave the conference room for a glass of water or soda. For early meetings, caffeine will give your staff a little extra boost of energy to get through the meeting.
Like with most things in life, follow-up and follow-through are essential. While the meeting is still fresh in everyone’s mind, have your meeting secretary send out your meeting summaries via email.
You can also send out task and deadline calendar invitations to your staff to keep everyone organized. There may have been agreements that certain employees or departments meet separately to discuss an issue further. Go ahead and send out an invite for that conference to the applicable participants to keep the discussion flowing towards a solution.
Distributing meeting summaries and sending out deadline reminders will encourage and foster accountability in your organization.
When possible, send out a one-question email survey to all of the participants to grade the meeting. Create an online survey that allows your staff to anonymously provide their feedback about the meeting. You really only need a single question in order to start measuring your staff’s engagement and interest levels. Were you satisfied with the way today’s meeting was conducted?
Our team here at A Courteous Communications hopes that these tips help guide your team’s pow-wows into productive and effective meetings.
As the company’s gatekeeper, sometimes it makes sense for your office’s receptionist to attend the meeting. When this happens, you can forward your business calls to our live answering service and we can assist your callers for as long as you need us to.