How to Organise and Run an Effective Meeting

I am certain you will have sat through one of those meetings before. Those meetings where time seems to drag on forever and nothing of worth is ever said. And those meetings take up time that cannot be gotten back; time that could have been spent actually doing work rather than waiting to escape the meeting room.  

But now, you are the one running the business and meetings are an unavoidable part of keeping a team on track and up to date. The worst thing you can do is let your memories and worries of bad meetings influence the meetings you run. It is possible to organise an effective meeting where everyone is engaged and everyone comes away better off. This guide will show you how.  

1. An effective meeting has to matter

It is nigh on impossible to organise an effective meeting if the matter at hand is trivial. Consider whether you really need to meet regarding issues or if it is something that can be settled through email. If you have a regular meeting scheduled, but there is nothing that needs discussing, simply cancel it and let your employees get on with doing their jobs.  

If an issue does require a full meeting, make sure that that issue is the absolute focus of your time in the conference room. Don’t treat this as an opportunity to discuss every little problem on your mind. Nothing spoils an effective meeting quicker than getting derailed onto meaningless trains of thought that matter to only a select few in the room. Keep to a few key points and stay on track.  

2. Set an agenda and share it with your staff

A useful part of ensuring your meeting runs smoothly, setting up each meeting’s agenda beforehand is both great for you in running the meeting and great for encouraging your team to take part. If your staff know what is coming up, it helps them to stay focused and allows them to prepare in advance. Set an ideal objective for each meeting and your employees can work on material to contribute, reducing time wasted waiting for input and letting them see how they can contribute to an effective meeting.  

3. Be selective with who you invite

Once you have a set agenda, you should consider who exactly needs to be present at the upcoming meeting. Rather than calling everyone in, regardless of how the issues being discussed relates to them, simply keep participants down to relevant and interested parties.  

So, if you are looking to discuss changes in a certain department, you only need to invite people from that department to take part. If you are looking for ideas to take the business forward, it is unlikely that entry level staff will feel capable of contributing anything worthwhile. Be selective in who you call and you will not only save time but will ensure you keep the discussion focused on what matters.  

4. Stay on top at all times

You are the boss. You called this meeting. It is up to you to keep things on track. Whilst discussion is vital in working out solutions to problems, this doesn’t excuse anyone from taking over the conversation or interrupting the flow of progress.  

If you find someone is wasting time as you try to run an effective meeting, step in quickly to move the conversation back on topic and away from any unhelpful discussions. Ensure people are contributing to the conversation in even amounts and don’t let anyone hog the limelight for too long. You have set out your schedule and it is up to you to make sure your meeting runs to that schedule.  

5. Keep away distractions

If you want to run an effective meeting, you need to have everyone engaged. Unfortunately, smartphones and tablets have provided a whole host of new ways for people to get distracted and to procrastinate. A simple step in organising your meetings to ensure productivity is to keep all these gadgets on the other side of the door. Ban unneeded technology from the room and keep everyone focused on contributing to a successful meeting.  

6. What to do once the meeting is finished

The effectiveness of a meeting is arguably decided on what happens afterwards. If the discussion points of a meeting are rarely or never brought up again, then you have wasted the time that meeting took. Chasing up and tracking progress after a meeting is important in ensuring each session is worthwhile.  

Create an Action Plan based on what was discussed and conduct regular progress checks to ensure work is being carried out and that everyone involved keeps in mind what was expected after the results of each meeting. In return, you should share reports of any relevant progress the company has made as a result of these changes. With regular updates, your employees can more easily see how each meeting has changed and improved the company. This should, in turn, help make it easier to run an effective meeting next time around.