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How effective are your business meetings?

We've all been there: the meeting has already gone on an hour too long, no one seems to be listening to each other anymore and the object has long been lost. It's no understatement to say that poorly prepared meetings are black holes that waste time and weaken company productivity.

A study by Microsoft Corp revealed that people spend almost six hours per week in meetings and that 70% of participants stated that those meetings were not productive. Have you evaluated your business meeting recently? How effective are your business meetings? Below are some tips that will dramatically improve the focus and direction of your meetings, whether you are travelling to meet a client face-to-face or brainstorming with fellow colleagues.

Have a meeting calendar

Creating a meeting calendar for your business and posting it on your business intranet makes it easier for employees to schedule their time for the meetings. With tools like Google Calendar and hangouts, it's never been easier to schedule and organise meetings - with just a few taps you can send out invites to multiple participants with a meeting brief that all can read.

Having a public calendar like this helps improve effectiveness of the participants, as they are more likely to prepare their contributions ahead of time with this visual reminder of the meeting. Posting meetings on a calendar will also help to reduce double-booking and overlapping of department and project meetings.

Stand up?

Changing to a stand-up meeting style makes you and your teams meet often. Thus, instead of every Monday 2 hours meeting, a 15-minute meeting Monday to Friday will work out for you. Meeting makes you identify problems earlier and take a correction measure almost immediately. Building up a few items at a time leads to efficiency than mass production method. Studies show that small batches are more effective than assembly lines.

Some of the benefits of a standing-up meeting

  • keeps a meeting more focused on the topic
  • Eliminates computers and phones distractions
  • Keeps people off their soapboxes
  • Meetings are shorter and people are ablt to get back to their real work.
  • Transparency and help from participants as people learn about each other

Consider having shorter more frequent meetings

Waiting for a time for 3-4 weeks to finish a project may lead to inefficiency. Frequent, shorter meetings of 15-20 mins held a couple of times per week can do wonders to making sure a project stays on focus and the people involved know what is expected of them. Frequent meetings allow opportunity to identify any potential obstacles to progress that have arisen and react accordingly. The following steps can make your short meeting more efficient:

  • Inform people who were not able to attend the meeting by summarising the actions covered in an email. By so doing members of the leadership team be kept in the loop without needing to been in every meeting.
  • During every recurring meeting, check off the completed action items assigned to different items.
  • Plan time for each agenda and make sure your meeting is short.

Consider where you have your meetings

The business world nowadays is full of overstuffed inboxes, constant reminders, and looming deadlines. There is value however in taking some a meeting away from the usual surroundings of the office. Despite the level of stress that is often part and parcel of the workplace, taking a meeting to the local cafe or park (weather permitting) can help to promote a friendlier and casual atmosphere that encourages the sharing of ideas and better relations between employees.

Benefits of taking your meetings outside the office

  • Meeting in a cafe promotes more relaxed discussion and a sharing of ideas. If you are meeting with a client they are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their agenda and objectives.
  • Focus - employees tend to focus and take an initiative if they are removed from their day in day out the environment. When holding a meeting in the business premises workers get tempted by their unfinished work. Thus, they may sneak back to their office to finish their work. When a meeting is held off-site, it is not possible for workers to sneak back to their office. Thus, an outdoor meeting makes members focus on the meeting only.
  • Enhanced experience - outdoor meetings are memorable because they break the norm. Meeting off-site stick in members mind and they will be committed to what was decided in the meeting. Studies show that 67% of people interviewed would prefer to hold a meeting off-site to develop company's image. Enhanced experience will make your business meetings effective.
  • Privacy - Through outdoors meetings, management can discuss sensitive matters. By so doing no other employer can overhear your classified information. In addition, it will prevent anxiety mostly when the meeting is about employee's performance. Thus the participants can discuss any matter without fear of their contribution been heard by a third party.

In conclusion, you can have productive business meeting as long as you have preplan plans and goals. In addition, success of your meeting will be because of the venue and nature of the meeting. For example, if you are a having a long meeting an outdoor meeting in a hotel meeting room is the best. Also, if you are meeting a client, go for a cafe meeting where you can talk about your product over a cup of coffee. In addition, you can apply these tips even in you traveling business meeting. However if your outdoor meeting involves flying abroad you should pay attention to the culture and believes as you plan for your trip.

Holiday Extras Cover Ltd and Holiday Extras Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Holiday Extras Cover Ltd 05058680 and Holiday Extras Ltd 01693250 are registered in England and Wales. Registered address: Ashford Road, Newingreen, Kent CT21 4JF.

Holiday Extras is underwritten by Travel Insurance Facilities plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered address: 2nd Floor, 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4UY. Company number 03220410.