Business meetings can either be a useful way to communicate information to essential staff members or a drain on valuable company resources. Organizing and conducting effective meetings is a requirement for many job descriptions. There are several types of meetings. Team and status meetings are two of the most common.
Business meetings occur for different purposes. Depending on the purpose and the type of meeting there are specific formats and objectives for each. Team meetings are one of the most regularly scheduled meetings in the business environment. Conducting team meetings is a test of leadership abilities. Many managers simply call a meeting, expect everyone to be prepared for anything to be discussed, and send out no agenda for what to expect. Scheduling meetings with little thought for planning or a clear objective is a surefire way to fail.
So how is an effective meeting run? For starters, careful planning, a stated objective and a detailed agenda should be sent to all participants at least a week before the meeting. The objective should be clear and succinct. Keep the scope of the meeting within a reasonable time frame. Unless the meeting is a working session to define a process or troubleshoot an ongoing issue, the length should not exceed one hour. Provide time limits for each agenda item.
The meeting should also start on time. Each agenda item should be discussed, being careful to keep the discussion related to the listed topic. If the discussion is not accomplishing anything in the way of providing essential information or solving a problem – move on to the next topic. If a new topic merits further discussion, take note of the topic and include the item on the agenda for the next meeting. Status meetings are handled differently. Project Managers often use status meeting to revise project plans, update stakeholders, and manage the dependencies between concurrent tasks. The agenda for these types of meetings is usually much more specific than a general meeting. Status is reported on a project, account, or client. The objective for this type of meeting is for all participants to indicate progress on their individual tasks in order to assess the status of the entire project.
Technology has provided effective tools to make the best use of meeting time as well. Microsoft Project and Microsoft Outlook provide valuable tools to schedule, share information, and update project tasks – sometimes eliminating the need to even have a face-to-face meeting. Microsoft Word includes an agenda wizard which can help create an agenda with all the critical information.
Having a strategy for conducting effective meetings will improve communication and information sharing and create less anxiety among meeting participants. It will also create more focused teams and less wasted time. Project Managers will develop more effective communication and leadership skills, and will find that their project plans will be more accurate and up-to-date. Using these tools with the tips contained above will ensure a successful meeting. It will also develop effective leadership and communication skills as well.
Scheduling a meeting is simple -- but does not ensure that it will serve a useful purpose. Too many meeting organizers schedule meetings with little thought to planning and organizing.
Team meetings provide information and status information that is useful for members of groups that have a common purpose. This could be either by function, department, goals or projects.
Process meetings are scheduled to drive a set of procedures and business processes from various work tasks and functions. These meetings strive to improve the overall business process and include all of the different job roles involved.
Status meetings are conducted to provide progress reports on a given project, client or account. The purpose of these meetings is to provide information and progress on the tasks assigned to each individual.
One-on-one meetings are individual meetings for the purpose of exchanging information specifically related to the individual, or of a confidential nature.
Business Meetings serve a vital role in disseminating information, providing project status, and facilitating communications between team members. Conducting them in the most effective manner fulfills the goals set out by the organizer, and ensures that company time and resources are not wasted.