Does anyone really like business meetings? If you ask anyone randomly on the street they will laugh and say no. There are ongoing jokes at many companies about the uselessness of meetings and how meetings are created just to make people feel busy. Some businesses have meetings to discuss meetings.
Having said that, if you really want to have useful and productive meetings, you can if you follow these ten steps.
1. Have a Purpose If you don't have a singular purpose for a meeting, you shouldn't need to have one. You should be able to state in five to eight words exactly why you are planning a meeting. If you can't, reconsider.
2. Write an Agenda Based off your purpose statement, write a meeting agenda. Micromanage each moment of the meeting in terms of who will speak, what they'll speak about, and how long they have to do it.
3. Set a Time Limit Meetings do not have to be long to be productive. Some companies have a standard 15-minute meeting rule. It's used to simply report on what each person has done or needs to do to meet a goal, and to assign new work.
4. Ban Electronics In today's day and age, that might seem a little strange. But the truth is, multitasking at meetings is very counter-productive. Tell those who are invited to the meeting not to bring phones or laptops or any electronics. This will make everything move smoother because no one will be distracted.
5. Assign Tasks Make someone responsible by directly assigning tasks to persons who can either be responsible for the people doing the work, or do the tasks themselves. By having a person of responsibility, you can avoid passing of the buck and making everything your job. Delegation before, during and after meetings is essential to increase productivity.
6. Keep the Size Small Only invite the people to the meeting that will have something to do. There is no point in having anyone at a meeting or part of a meeting if they aren't going to leave with something to do. For instance, if you have a project manager, invite her, but there is no reason to invite the people she manages.
7. Start and End on Time Set a start time and an end time, and stick to it. Start on time and don't allow late people to show up late. If they're late they simply miss the meeting. The reason is that late people, for whatever reason, will cause delays and interrupt the flow.
8. Give Each Person Input Time Anyone coming to the meeting should have been given an assignment of what to talk about at the meeting, and they should be given time to talk. Sometimes one or two people will take over a meeting and the others do not get a chance to give input. Make sure that each person gets an opportunity.
9. Assign Someone as the Record Keeper One person should be the official note taker, including writing down who is assigned what task. This person will within a few hours send everyone a copy of the meeting minutes, which will include a list of tasks and to whom they're assigned.
10. Follow Up After a meeting is over, it's important to check up on anyone who was given tasks to do, but also to drop everyone who attended an email with the meeting minutes (as mentioned above) as well as an opportunity to edit the record. In this way you can ensure that everyone who attended is on the same page.
Meetings are necessary for a business with more than one person (even if you only have contractors), to move forward and get things done. By having meetings that address a specific purpose, assigning responsibility to the right people and having frequent follow-ups, you'll find that all your meetings are more productive.