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Encompass® Agency Insights

The Art of Hosting a Great Business Meeting

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Here's the truth about business meetings: They are essential but not always enjoyable. If they aren't run efficiently and effectively, meetings can quickly devolve into a poor allocation of precious time. Harvard Business Review reported that one company devoted a staggering 300,000 work hours per year to support a single executive committee meeting.

On the other hand, meetings that are well-designed and smoothly run are a productivity boon for any organization. To help small-business owners master the art of the effective meeting, whether it is in person or remote, we've outlined a few actionable tips designed to foster open communication and productive collaboration.

Timing is everything

How long is the ideal business meeting? It is exactly as long as it needs to be and not a second longer. Packing too much into an agenda or allowing discussions to become overly digressive is a sure sign of a meeting that's destined to run off course.

A great business meeting is lean. It presents the necessary information quickly and compellingly, and helps everyone involved arrive at key decisions. Remember, everyone at a meeting has other responsibilities they've temporarily placed on hold. By keeping your meetings free of fluff (the basic principles of Lean Six Sigma are a good reference point), you help everyone do their job more effectively.

More often, but shorter

Nutritionists often encourage dieters to eat smaller, more frequent meals. Business meeting masters approach their craft in the same way. By keeping meetings shorter but more frequent, you can help attendees keep a sharp focus, as it's natural for attention and enthusiasm to wane over time.

Avoid inflexible scheduling

Small businesses need to be nimble and willing to exploit opportunities wherever and whenever they arise. The same applies to meetings. Instead of having a regular, pre-set meeting schedule, encourage your workers to call shorter meetings on an as-needed basis. This will help you avoid calling meetings for the sake of the schedule and allow you to act on fast-moving developments that require group attention.

Consider your presentation

Even the world's best entertainers know an act has to stay fresh to remain relevant. Business meetings are no different. If you're falling back on the same presentation time and again, your audience will begin to tune out.

To help keep things novel, invite new speakers, encourage participation, or incorporate video or other media. Do whatever you can to gain and hold the interest of your staff or co-workers.

Don't be bound by hierarchy

Sometimes the best ideas float up from the most junior personnel. Unfortunately, many younger workers hesitate to speak up in meetings for fear of violating protocol.

To help foster a spirit of true collaboration, ensure that everyone at the meeting knows their ideas are valued. Be sure that everyone feels comfortable enough to advance an idea without fear of being dismissed.

Prime the pump

If you're aiming to keep your meetings short yet effective, sometimes it pays to send a brief message outlining not just the general subject, but also the core discussion points you're likely to address. This allows everyone time to think about the situation and hit the ground running once the meeting starts—and that's a recipe for faster, more on-point meetings and greater interaction.

The takeaway

A business meeting that's poorly done is often little more than a waste of time and resources. A great meeting, however, can inspire people, foster a spirit of collaboration, and help you make smart, strategic decisions.

We encourage you to consider the ideas outlined above before your next organizational meeting

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