Being a leader in today’s business world comes with a lot of responsibility. Whether you are a new manager, or a subject matter expert, leading a meeting can be a powerful thing if done correctly. Meetings are one of the most overlooked qualities of leadership in business. There are an estimated 55 million meetings that take place per day in America, and yet, many leaders don’t think to change their approach meetings in their organization. That’s very concerning, considering that 71% of senior managers think meetings are ineffective.
Being a Leader in Today’s Business Meetings
Meetings tend to have a negative connotation. As a business leader, you’re much more inclined to approach meeting positively, but what about meeting attendees? It’s fair to say that meetings are typically a source of frustration for employees, manager. Bad meetings tend to have lingering effects on employees; it doesn’t help with morale, and it often makes employees less productive.
There are ways to make meetings more productive. Meetings should not be chalked up as a cost of business, but rather, a productive time to move forward with ideas, tasks, and projects while addressing work issues.
Business leaders have a big responsibility to lead business meetings. Instead of having terrible meetings, we provide some ideas and tips on how business leaders can have more productive meetings. In this guide, we aim to help business leaders effectively have productive business meetings in organizations, while enforcing organization-wide meeting habits for meetings.
Our Leadership Tips for Meetings
How can business leaders lead meetings? Here are a few key concepts and ideas on how to lead meetings.
Planning for Meetings
- Preparing for Meetings
- Defining Meeting Purpose
- Setting an Agenda
- Determining Meeting Attendees
- Time & Duration
- Organization Accountability
During the Meeting
- How to Start a Meeting
- Meeting Discussions
- Conflict Resolution
- Ending Meetings
Meeting Planning Tips for Business Leaders
Preparing for meetings is worth the time. Here are a few tips on how business leaders can prepare for upcoming meetings.
Defining a Meeting Purpose
A great place to start is the purpose of a meeting. You may have a meeting cadence that includes recurring meetings. The purpose of each meeting may depend on the type of meeting.
One thing not do to do is confuse meeting purpose vs meeting name. For instance, the internal weekly sales meeting is not the purpose, rather, defining new sales opportunities or reporting on the sale prospects.
Setting Meeting Agendas
Most business leaders know that agendas can be a powerful tool for meetings. When done correctly, an agenda organizes everyone involved prior to the meeting. This makes your life as a business leader a lot easier.
Advice on meeting leaders preparing for meetings from Liz Brunner, CEO & Founder of Brunner Communications
Step #1: Number one, has to be the more prepared YOU are as the leader as to what the meeting agenda and goals are for your meeting, the better outcome you will have.
Step #2: The next step, is communicating that agenda and those goals to your team with clarity; what expectations do you have – as the leader – of each of them? What do they need to be prepared to do or articulate in that meeting, ideas you expect them to come with?
Step #3: And #3, how much time is allotted for them to do so? It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule, but as an executive communications coach, I believe that the more clarity a leader can provide when it comes to communicating expectations, the more engaged your team will be and the better the outcome as a result.
Steps #2 and #3 are where many leaders fall short.
Determining Meeting Attendees:
Deciding who needs to be at a meeting, or more importantly, who doesn’t need to be at a meeting is a great way to improve productivity while being mindful of people’s time.
Pro-tip: To identify the people who should actually be present at a meeting business leaders should create limited invites for meetings, with secondary employees in mind. There are ways to get secondary meeting attendees involved without having them actually attend a meeting.
Pro-tip 2: An agenda that is well set and has descriptive topics can help identify meeting attendees versus the people who don’t need to be there. If someone should not answer the questions on the agenda, they shouldn’t be involved in the actual meeting, and instead, can be filled in on the meeting later in a follow-up email.
Time & Duration for Meetings:
Time is an important aspect of a meeting. We tend to try to schedule meetings on the hour or half an hour due to the fact that most meeting tools and calendars online are limited to just that.
Create a tight timeframe – we tend to work in the amount of time allotted. A tighter time restriction can increase productivity for that reason.
Pro-tip: Create a tight timeframe for your meeting and your team will be more productive during the meeting. It’s very easy to make a meeting an hour-long on a meeting planning tool. However, if you don’t need the whole hour, consider making a meeting 45 minutes on a meeting planning tool instead of an hour.
Improving meetings doesn’t just end when the meetings end – they should constantly be evaluated and attendees should provide feedback. Having a placed importance of meetings and how to improve them will only help improve meeting culture. Consider things like including a few questions about meetings on employee engagement surveys, or a tool to rate meetings. You could even create an anonymous survey.
- Employee Engagement Surveys – no questions about its effect.
- Rating meetings – research shows asking attendees to rate meetings improves the quality
- Build breaks in the middle of the meeting
- Anonymous meeting surveys
- Questions around meetings during 1v1s, quarterly reviews, and other meetings
How Business Leadership Can Communicate Expectations to Meeting Attendees
As a business leader, part of your job is to communicate business meeting expectations to your team during meetings. When everyone is held accountable for business meetings, the quality and efficiency of meetings will improve.
Advice on meeting leaders preparing for meetings from Liz Brunner, CEO & Founder of Brunner Communications
“Whether it’s an email to team members 24-hours or more outlining the agenda, outlining what the expectation is of each member – in other words – what do they need to come prepared to the table with? I have some clients who tell me they have a weekly “huddle” but with no agenda! It’s a free for all”.
“Now, sometimes, that can be fun and creative, but may not be as productive without everyone knowing how they can and should be engaged/participate. I also believe that each person needs to either come to the table with something and/or each person needs to have the opportunity to speak in each meeting. Unless your meeting has a HUGE number of participants, this can usually be easily accomplished. If it is a large group, then take advantage of chat boxes for virtual events, ask general questions that will keep people engaged and participating.”
Tips for Business Leaders During Meetings
When opening a meeting, the last thing you want to do is make announcements or get into logistics. If you do that, you’re well on your way to a stale, one-sided meeting. It takes time for people to get involved and engaged. Instead, consider ways to connect people – maybe a short exercise that pairs people, or asking an open-ended, yet engaging question.
Pro-Tip: The beginning of the meeting is often when people are most tuned in. To catch their attention, lead with something engaging and interested, and avoid talking about basic logistics to start your meeting.
What to Discuss During Meetings
In terms of meeting productivity, the issues with many meetings is that people may be afraid to discuss pressing issues. To get people talking, try doing a quick exercise like pairing off into groups.
Meeting Discussion Guidelines for Leaders to Follow
In order to have meetings where things get done, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Meeting attendees are genuinely interacting
- Includes healthy business conflict but not a personal conflict
- A safe environment to discuss ideas
- Scrap the norm of politeness that would hold back
- Get creative with getting people to discuss their thoughts
- Avoid complicit consensus on a topic
Handling Conflict Resolution
Good vs. Bad Conflict
There is a difference between good meeting conflict versus bad meeting conflict. In meetings, conflicts that arise due to personal issues is considered unproductive and also bad for team morale. However, healthy conflict during meetings (conflicts that avoid personal issues) should be encouraged – in fact, conflict can help come to the right decisions during meetings.
Without conflict, nothing will evolve. Business leaders should be promoting conflict in meetings, and how to handle conflict when discussing meeting topics.
Coming to a Resolution
Resolving conflict during meetings means making decisions during meetings is ultimately why we have meetings. Teams that can come to decisions in a quick manner are more efficient with their time. Learn more about decision-making meetings, and how to make decisions.
How to End Meetings
Ending a meeting can be as important as the beginning of a meeting. As a leader, here’s what to keep in mind in terms of doing and enforcing meeting best practices
- End on a positive, uplifting note, no matter how the meeting has gone.
- Summarize your next steps and key takeaways.
- Make sure your meeting members all aligned in the next steps and responsibilities.
After the meeting:
Signs of a great meeting
- Meeting attendees all feel like their time was well-spent and they accomplished what they needed to.
- People remember the meeting and what went on during the meeting.
People generally don’t like meetings – but this notion can change. With these tips, business leaders can turn your organization’s meetings into highly-productive and effective uses of time.
Yoyomeeting Helps Business Leaders Enforce Meeting Habits
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About Liz Brunner
Liz Brunner is the CEO and founder of Brunner Communications. Leveraging more than 30 years of media and communications experience, expertise, and leadership, Brunner is sought by high-profile individuals and organizations to build meaningful reputations and powerful brand identities within their markets. She is also a frequent speaker at corporate conventions, including the 2018 Barron’s Women Summit and the 2018 CoreNet Global Summit.
In February 2020, Liz launched her podcast, Live Your Best Life with Liz Brunner, where she shares stories of recreation. All of her guests have taken their life experiences, the good and the bad, the successes and even the failures, and used that knowledge to not only create their “next chapters,” but to inspire others as well.