At some point in your career, whether you are the boss communicating a message to the whole company, or an individual contributor reporting up to the rest of your team, you are likely to run a meeting. When you call one, it’s your responsibility to keep it as productive as possible. Learn how to run a successful business meeting by following the tips below, and in time, be the hero of your office.
Set the meeting agenda.
The agenda, or ultimate purpose for the meeting, must be clear to all participants or you risk losing their interest before you’ve even begun. What topics do you plan to cover during the meeting? What kind of issues do you hope to resolve? Is there a project you anticipate brainstorming? What is the role or contribution expectation of each attendee? All of this, and more, must be preplanned and pre-communicated to all attendees for ensuring a successful meeting.
You can distribute copies of the agenda at the meeting or, if you are in-person, have it written out on a whiteboard for everyone to reference. Let the agenda serve as a compass for the conversation as the meeting progresses. With the agenda made clear to all attendees, staying on-goal should be super-simple.
Timeliness is everything.
Show that you respect your employees’ time by starting the meeting at the designated time and ending when planned. This will generate good feelings and cooperation all around. As a bonus, you’ll build a name for yourself as a leader who always starts meetings on time, fending off possible latecomers in the future.
Create a safe space for successful collaboration.
If your meeting involves brainstorming and communicating new ideas, ensure that everyone feels safe enough to share. Establish guidelines for participation, such as allowing everyone to have a turn to talk without interruption, letting employees submit suggestions anonymously before the meeting, or pairing up employees to brainstorm together.
Establish ground rules for the meeting discussion.
As the team leader, you can establish how decisions at this meeting will be reached. Spend some time deliberating over your chosen approach:
- Will you be sharing your own ideas as the final decision on every topic?
- Will you be sharing your ideas and then asking for input from the team?
- Will you ask your team to share their ideas and together, reach a final decision?
It’s your call, but be sure to have a clear idea of how you want to approach the meeting, and that your employees know this clearly as well.
Wrap up with a call to action.
At the end of the meeting, share a quick verbal wrap-up and end with a call to action. Assign tasks to appropriate individuals, pair up employees who will be working on a project together and share a call to action for the entire team on the matters discussed. This will help everyone feel like you’ve had a super-productive meeting. If needed, reinforce your call to action with an email that outlines the steps you’ve previously verbally communicated.