A wise person once said that you should only take advice from people who have done it, and have done it plenty of times. And since we’re talking about business meetings, business leaders are one of the pros at this.
Why? Because they spend 72% of their working hours in meetings. That is a lot of meetings.
So, to get a much better sense of how to run better meetings, we've collated 10 meeting tips from successful business leaders themselves.
But before we get into that, let's first define what a business meeting is.
What are Business Meetings?
A business meeting is a gathering in which business matters are discussed. That sounds simple, right? But in reality, it's far from that.
This type of meeting is crucial for every organization. A business meeting is where teammates collectively solve problems, come up with the best solutions, and make the right decisions.
Here are other reasons why business meetings are important:
- It creates a space to communicate: With a good amount of people working remotely nowadays, staying on the same page can be a challenge. Gathering every team member for an all-hands-on-deck meeting provides a chance to discuss and catch up on what each one's doing and what they missed out on.
- It fosters unity: Everyone is part of your business—whether a client, contractor or advisor. It's not just your in-office team members that bring an impact to your business. Hence, business meetings invoke a sense of unity among people who are a part of the venture.
- It's a good morale booster: Think of this—wouldn't you be motivated to work towards a goal if you've been recognized and appreciated for all your hard work in front of your team? That feel-good factor is something everyone needs.
10 Tips For Conducting a Business Meeting According to Business Leaders
1. On Meeting Agenda
If you do have a meeting, prepare an agenda and proposal far in advance. — Oliver Dlouhý, CEO at Kiwi.com
Without an agenda, your meeting will stray away from what's important, and it will most likely last longer than it should. Creating a meeting agenda is essential to keep everyone focused and cover all discussion points.
Like Bill Gates said, "You have a meeting to make a decision and not decide on the question."
2. On Inviting the Right People
Meetings should have as few people as possible, but all the right people. — Charles W. Scharf, CEO of Wells Fargo
Only include people who need to be in the loop and who have a say in the meeting; everyone else is pretty useless.
Jeff Bezos once argued that one should never have a meeting that cannot feed the entire group with just two pizzas. It's unproductive and inefficient.
3. On Regular Check-Ins
Bring your whole self to work. I don't believe we have a professional self Monday through Friday and a real self the rest of the time. It's all professional and it is all personal. — Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
Since working professionals spend a lot of their workday in meetings, it's essential to have a check-in routine. Sandberg starts all her meetings by going around the room, giving each attendee to discuss their emotional state. This is worth it because people feel valued and build a personal connection.
4. On Being Respectful of Other Time Zones
Especially during COVID where folks spread out all over the map, holding the meeting at mid-day helps with crossing time zones. — Zach Sims, CEO at Codeacademy
With remote work, coordinating meeting times should be a rule rather than an option. It shows that you respect and value your teammates well enough to allow flexibility in your meeting schedules.
5. On Having Less, But Better Meetings
Meetings should be like salt - a spice sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful. Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation. — Jason Fried, CEO at Basecamp
Yes, meetings are important. But too much of it (like everything else) can negatively affect everyone on the team. It's better to avoid having meetings just for the sake of it.
And if you're invited to one where your expertise is not needed, it's okay to politely decline. You can always check the automated meeting transcript later.
6. On Active Listening
To launch a business means successfully solving problems. Solving problems means listening. — Richard Branson, British Entrepreneur
Only speak when you have the floor and listen patiently. A good listener makes a good leader at all times. Active listening also creates a solid base to formulate your response.
Similarly, asking questions during the designated time or raising your hands are moral behaviors. Never interrupt a person who's speaking. Hugh Park once said, "The world is run by those willing to sit until the end of meetings."
7. On Sticking to the Core Group
Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people. — Steve Jobs, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Apple.
A group that facilitates and influences an organization towards the right direction stands as the tangible repositories of knowledge and growth.
It's important to have a core group in every organization, especially during business meetings, because people act to fulfill the priorities and needs of these key members as they are a focal point.
8. On Encouraging Healthy Conflict
“The best meetings are when there’s substantive debate, with different ideas that are both reasonable and well informed. That’s where real progress happens.” — Jack Altman, CEO of Lattice.
Being assertive when working as a team is not uncommon, and conflicts among team members are inevitable. But, it's also essential to redirect it into a healthy conflict which helps you strive to be more open and empathize with the rest of the members.
9. On Giving Changes Some Time
“Let the habit build before you evaluate whether it’s working against the outcome you’re hoping for. Otherwise, people get whiplash if you’re always jumping to the next idea that seems good.” — Anne Raimondi, COO of Asana
Creating a roadmap and action plan for three months at least is important once you've gained insights from the meeting. This roadmap must define all concrete steps to take and challenges that you'll face.
It's essential to have a plan to prevent workflow disruption and support the team efficiently.
10. On Documenting Meeting Norms and Minutes
Staff norms must be written at the top of all meeting documents, so there’s a consistent reminder of what we expect folks to bring to the table.” — Rahul Vohra, Founder & CEO, Superhuman
Team norms help in establishing an agreed-upon behavior and clear goals. It's indispensable to get specific with what you want from the team meetings and members.
But this shouldn't be a said-and-forgotten activity; it's important to revisit and make changes if necessary as and when the team or the organization evolves. This way you build a team that takes accountability of their actions.
Keep your business meetings more focused, productive, and goal-oriented by implementing these essential tips. Too many important decisions happen during meetings to take them lightly. And these decisions don't just affect the company itself. Sometimes, it affects humanity. With this in mind, it's always better to be prepared to reach the best outcome, don't you think?