Handled correctly, meetings can be extremely valuable for your small business. They should leave everyone with a sense of accomplishment, actionable items, and clear next steps. Keep reading to learn five steps for holding an effective meeting.
1. Create an agenda
Every meeting you hold should have a specific and defined
purpose. An agenda will let you and the attendees know what topics will be
discussed and the overall objective of the meeting. You might need to hold a
meeting to ask for advice about a problem the company is facing, make
a decision, or build an action plan. Try to stay away from “status
update” meetings, as they usually don’t have a defined purpose and can be
replaced by an email. You should also avoid holding a meeting just to share
information, unless that information is sensitive and should not be shared via
During the meeting, stick to your agenda. If someone brings
up something not included on the agenda, acknowledge it and discuss it outside
the meeting. If you allow every off-topic conversation to take place, it’s easy
to get sidetracked and lose sight of the goal of the meeting. Then, you might
end up holding the meeting longer than planned or not accomplishing what you
2. Scrutinize the attendee list
Carefully consider who really needs to be involved in the meeting. When you’re a small business, it might seem logical to invite every employee but – it isn’t always necessary. Instead, limit the number of attendees to people who are actively involved in the situation, who can provide useful information or offer advice. That way, everyone in attendance leaves knowing exactly why they were asked to be there.
3. Stick to a schedule
When it’s time for the meeting, make sure you start and end on time. Remember that when your staff is in a meeting, they cannot do anything else, like assisting customers or working on projects. Sticking to a schedule will help your team stay focused on the task at hand, rather than wondering when they’ll be able to return to work.
5. Follow up
After the meeting, send an email to all the attendees with an overview of what was discussed and what everyone should do next. Even if they paid attention the whole time, they could have missed a key point or forgotten something. It’s also possible that some walked away with a different interpretation of what decision was reached. By following up after the meeting, you can ensure everyone is on the same page, understands what deadlines they need to meet or what decisions were made. A follow-up email will also give you a chance to address anything else that came up, so you can determine the best way to proceed.