Meetings are a great way to bring people together for face-to-face interaction, discussion and agreement. They promote good business communication and, when they are well organised and managed, can produce creative results, focused decisions and enhanced team work.
All of this relies on good planning, and good meeting management. So depending on the frequency of your meetings it might be worthwhile looking into a meeting planning service, or a dedicated meeting manager. This is someone who is responsible for organising the meeting from start to finish – including ensuring attendees have the right information in advance and that actions are followed up. Here are the key ways a meetings planner could help make your meetings more efficient:
Setting up the meeting
It may be a regular event like a monthly Board meeting, or it could be a larger, one-off sales meeting, but setting everything up is about more than booking a room. A good organiser will work with you to make sure the right people are invited, the right venue selected, if it’s to be held outside your offices; that food and drink is ordered and staff managing the meeting are fully prepared. They may also take responsibility for booking rooms for anyone who needs an overnight stay and travel for those who need it.
Preparing in advance
No-one likes to come to a meeting without knowing what it’s for, who’s going to be there and what the desired outcomes are going to be. People will automatically be more productive in a meeting if they have had time to read any papers, think about their contribution and talk to their teams. So it’s vital that a business meeting planner sends out information well in advance. This might include:
- Minutes of the previous meeting
- Agenda for the upcoming meeting
- Any papers or notes that need to be read in advance of the meeting
- Any requests for information to be brought to the meeting
This allows your participants to know exactly what to expect, and helps them to be engaged and ready to contribute.
Do what you say you will do
An over-running meeting is common, but no-one likes it. Everyone has their work to get back to, and so it’s really important that the meeting starts when you say it will start and finishes when you say it will finish. It’s the job of the person chairing the meeting to ensure that this happens. If that’s you, go through the agenda and work out roughly how long you want to spend on each topic. On the day, make sure you keep an eye on the time and move things along if you need to. In some cases, it’s a good idea to appoint someone else to chair the meeting, particularly if you are heavily involved in the discussions.
Do things differently
If you want to be truly efficient, think about new ways of running your meeting so that people are not getting into a ‘rut’ and failing to contribute, or keep to the point. Some organisations do this by holding their meetings standing up, rather than sitting around a table. Others take their meetings off site so they can’t be disturbed by the rest of the office. Afternoon meetings can even benefit from some stretching or moving before the meeting starts – this adds energy to the room and combats that post-lunch sleepiness. Your meeting planning company might be able to suggest other ways to keep things fresh.
Assign clear actions
The purpose of a meeting is to allow things to move forward. That means that people leave with a clear idea of what is going to happen next, when it is going to happen and who is responsible for the action. So it’s vital, from the point of view of accountability and measurement, that everyone knows the actions they have and when they need to complete them.
This is when having virtual meeting organisers can come in really useful. They can take your notes and create the minutes of the meeting along with an action list, and your organiser can get in touch with each participant later to ensure they are happy and that they will deliver.
Better meetings, better results
If people feel that your meetings are energetic, focused and positive, they are far more likely to be engaged, and you are far more likely to get real value for your business. A meeting organiser can take all the planning, preparation, management and follow-up tasks off your hands, leaving you free to concentrate on the business that matters.
If you’re short on time, or know that your meetings could be more productive, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.