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9 Ways to Run a Successful Business Meeting

Chairs in meeting room

It can totally be done, believe it or not. Stop filling up everyone’s calendars with meaningless meetings by checking out these 9 ways to run a successful business meeting.

#1. Prep.

Proactive planning increases the chances of hitting issues, allowing time for actual decision making (you know, the whole goal of having meetings). Preparation can also increase the likeliness of ending on time, which examples valuing everyone’s time, including your own. What happened last week that needs follow up? What are the issues that have occurred throughout the week that need group attention? Prep includes taking an interest & asking team members how their progress is throughout the week- not waiting until the day before getting together.

#2. Nail the Basics.

It’s the small things that make a huge impact. Upon starting, take a few minutes to ask how everyone is. How’s their day going? A lot could have happened since the team was last together. Congratulate someone publicly. Shoot the shit with the team. Example valuing people, both their personal and professional milestones. Doing so sets the tone for authenticity and trust in the meeting.  

#3. Set a meeting agenda that’s meaningful, & stick to it.

Often times, we receive these dissertation agendas, as if the author is trying to reach a word count (kind of like what I’m doing with this blog post right now!) Keep it simple: What are the priorities? What are the challenges, or obstacles we need to resolve together? What items are crucial to discuss in order to make a decision?

#4. Never assume why someone didn’t get something done.

Like the saying goes, “When we assume, we make an ass out of you and me”. It’s easy to go to the dark side of assumption, especially when knowing that team member went to Chipotle every day last week. Ultimately, it’s the project manager’s duty to understand and remove obstacles of team members, not to assume or place judgment on why they didn’t get something done. Instead of assuming, simply ask how you and the team can support getting it done.

#5. Counter problems by asking for solutions.

This is actually helpful in multiple situations. One, we already mentioned above in #4 (re-read that bad boy real quick). Asking questions to work toward a solution is also super helpful when a meeting gets de-railed. We all have a team member or two that’ll throw a wrench in a meeting’s productivity by going off on a tangent about something pretty non-related: “Yeah, you know, my laptop is just so slow that I can’t work faster. We really should all have Macs”. Instead of calling out and embarrassing them, maybe approach it like this: “So, what I’m hearing is that we need to get someone in IT to help you out with your slow computer, is that right? Let’s walk over after this meeting.” Boom. Solution offered.

#6. Address conflict, constructively.

Firstly, there is nothing wrong with conflict. Conflict is fantastic and healthy. Navigating conflict helps us grow personally and professionally. Maybe two people have two very different ideas on how to handle a task or tackle a project, let’s say. Address it head on by tasking those two individuals to come up with a solution together. Don’t crush the trust of the group by making a snide comment about them not agreeing; instead, encourage them to find a solution together and offer your support in doing so.

#7. Stick to the time allotted to show those involved that you value their time.

Becoming awesome at this has a lot to do with follow up performed during the week. Publishing an agenda in a timely manner also provides an opportunity for the attendees to perform their due diligence and prep for the items that’ll be covered. Give them the opportunity to show up with responses, questions, and decisions. If your meetings often get derailed by random comments or interjections that have nothing to do with- well, anything – no sweat! A fun little exercise I was introduced to a few years ago was countering interjections with the word “Squirrel”. It was a fun & quick way to say “Hey, that totally doesn’t pertain to anything we need to accomplish”, while simultaneously making the room giggle.  

#8. Provide a timely recap of takeaways, priorities, and next steps.

No one needs a play-by-play of exactly what was said within the meeting. This is not court, and no one has time for that. When writing this, ask yourself, “What would someone need to know if they missed this meeting?”, and keep it to that. Also, entice them to read it. Not kidding, I have included a tagline in the bottom of the email that says, “If you’ve made it this far, skype me for an exclusive meme of the day.” You’d be surprised how many team members respond.

#9. Follow Up.

Show that you give a shit by following up with team members. Was there a sticky conflict that was discussed? Was someone not really engaged? Follow up one on one. Maybe they’re new to the team and don’t feel comfortable raising their hand yet. Perhaps they had just had the most delicious Qdoba burrito for lunch and were about to fall asleep during your riveting status meeting. Following up creates a great working relationships AND will contribute to prepping for the next meeting. Two-fer!

Now that you’ve received my 9 cents on ways to run a more successful business meeting, tell me all of the things I’ve missed! Let’s educate one another so that we can run the #bestmeetingsever and in turn, have less of them. For everyone’s sake. Seriously.  

And, now that you’ve made it to the end, here’s a funny meme about business meetings for your enjoyment:


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