A study conducted late last year by Steven Rogelberg, a management and psychology professor at the University of Charlotte in North Carolina, found that up to a third of meetings attended by employees do not require their presence. Companies that rely primarily on this way of operating (especially in an era of widespread remote work) are losing up to $100 million a year.

What can help solve this problem? First, carefully analyze whether a topic may be discussed differently, in email, or as a written note. Second, look for ways to ensure that with the need to see each other face-to-face in person or online, the time is spent as efficiently as possible. Here are the best strategies for effective business meetings.

Effective business meetings – are they necessary?

This question should undoubtedly be answered in the affirmative – even if, at the current stage of development, companies function well with the help of various types of instant messaging. Why? Because no exchange of emails (which are usually thoughtful, abbreviated, devoid of emotion, etc.) will provide the kind of results that a discussion – a brainstorming session in which the views, thoughts and ideas of different people with different backgrounds collide.

Business meetings become especially indispensable when we care about making an important decision for the team or the company, solving a serious problem, discussing a strategy affecting the long-term operations of the company, or generating new ideas (e.g. for brand marketing campaigns). No company, no matter what industry it operates in, can therefore dispense with live or online discussions in smaller or larger groups.

An effective business meeting – why is it so hard to organize one?

One can list several diverse reasons behind business callees taking too long, failing to deliver the expected results and making participants feel that their time has been wasted. Starting with the traditional tardiness, to the lack of a set plan (“jumping” from topic to topic) and goal (the result we want to achieve, which leads to unnecessary deliberations), to the organizer’s inadequate moderation of the discussion.

Such most popular reasons lead to the fact that there is a need to organize another opportunity to talk about the same topic, because the first time proved insufficiently effective, which affects the work (rate of performance of other duties) of each participant.

Effective business meetings – strategies worth implementing

So what can you do to ensure that no participant says “This matter could have been discussed by email”? Here are the top 5 things you should take care of if you are committed to holding only effective business meetings.

  1. Define the goal
  2. Before organizing a discussion, it is necessary to clearly define its purpose, because, without this element, the discussion may turn out to be chaotic and thus – unproductive. Defining the purpose will allow all participants to focus on the relevant issues and guide the discussion in the right direction. Thus, at the outset indicate whether the goal is to make a specific decision, solve a problem or perhaps develop new ideas.

  3. Prepare the agenda
  4. The agenda is the most crucial – right after the goal – element of effective business meetings. A defined point-by-point plan that participants adhere to, along with those responsible for talking about the issue at hand, will lead to the expected results (because each participant knows what to expect). Be sure to send the agenda to the participants a few days in advance, so that everyone has time to get acquainted with it and adequately prepare to discuss the points.

  5. Watch the time
  6. Exceeding the set time for individual points (or even the lack of a clear time structure, i.e., a specific amount of time that can be spent on a particular point) can end up as a drawn-out discussion, resulting in a loss of focus and interest among participants. Ineffective time management increases fatigue levels, significantly reducing efficiency and engagement, which is why it is so important to stick to the schedule at all times.

  7. Limit the number of issues to discuss
  8. Remember, too, that trying to discuss too many topics in one meeting can lead to a rushed, superficial discussion and an inability to explore each issue in depth. It is better to focus on a few of the most relevant points and give them adequate attention but discuss issues related to the topic but of lesser importance, as an email.

  9. Ensure active participation
  10. To ensure a fully effective business meeting, encourage participants to actively participate in the discussion. Ask questions, listen to their opinions and urge them to share ideas, while ensuring that they stay focused on the issues at hand. Eliminating unnecessary distractions (such as taking phone calls during the discussion) will especially help you do this.

Effective business meetings – summary

No employee or partner likes to feel that he or she has wasted his or her work time by attending a meeting that failed to agree on any important issues. Then bitterness sets in since one could have focused on other tasks during that time.

For this reason, every organizer of discussions – whether internal with employees or with external partners – should prepare for them accordingly, using, for example, the strategies described above, especially in the area of defining the goal and setting a detailed agenda. The combination of all these tips will ensure that everyone feels like they are participating in an effective business meeting.

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Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.