Love them or loathe them, business meetings play a big part in our day to day working lives. From the weekly team briefing to the all-important first meeting with a new client, there are certain rules of thumb which can make these events more enjoyable (or at least more bearable). Here are just eight dos and don’ts to remember next time you host a meeting.
Don’t Invite People Who Don’t Need to be There
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a meeting which is totally irrelevant to you and your role. Only invite the people who strictly need to be there. People who have no vested interest in the meeting tend to get bored and fidget, which can be distracting for everyone else.
Don’t Say More Than You Have to
Set yourself a time limit and stick to it. Try to have some well-structured notes to hand so you don’t stray off topic and start to ramble, because people have very short attention spans and they will switch off if you’re droning on for too long.
You may well be leading the meeting, but that doesn’t mean you get to talk over everyone else. Guide the discussion, by all means, but make people feel valued by giving them the floor and listening when they have something to say.
Don’t Bring Your Phone
You’re setting a bad example if you get distracted by your smartphone. Screens are the enemy of a productive meeting, so call an amnesty and people will be more focused on the here and now than on updating Instragram.
Do Schedule Well in Advance
Give your colleagues fair warning if you want to organise a meeting, giving people a chance to clear space in their diaries and think about what they might want to say. Springing a meeting on them at the last minute will make it a less productive exercise, and people may even try to wriggle out of attending.
Do Begin and End on Time
You don’t want people to be clock-watching the whole time, so begin on time and make sure things are wrapped up neatly. Setting an agenda or having bullet-points to follow will ensure you keep to schedule, so always plan in advance what you need to say and how long you’ll need to say it in.
Do Show a Sense of Humour
Your meeting shouldn’t be a stage for your stand-up routine, but showing a sense of humour will keep people engaged. Make sure the jokes are light and appropriate though – anything too daring and you run the risk of offending someone in the room.
Do More Listening Than Talking
Having a Q&A session at the end or opening the meeting up for debate and discussion not only makes your meeting more productive but helps keep people engaged and makes them feel their opinions are taken into consideration. It also gives you a chance to steady your nerves if you’re not the most confident of public speakers.
Formal or informal, long or short, following these simple rules will make meetings more enjoyable for all involved. Planning is the key to a productive and pleasant meeting, so be prepared and give other people the chance to participate if you want them to feel it was a worthwhile exercise.