8 Useful Tips on How To Successfully Manage Meetings

Updated 21 July 2022

The ability to host effective meetings is crucial for organisations and facilitates strong communication between employees and stakeholders. Meetings provide an opportunity to share ideas, link resources and develop effectual collaborations. If you're in a position of leadership or working on a team project, being able to manage your professional meetings can aid your organisation's productivity for a more efficient and communicative working environment. In this article, we explain eight useful tips on how you can successfully manage your meetings.

8 tips on how to successfully manage meetings

To learn how to successfully manage meetings, consider implementing the following eight tips for approaching, structuring and conducting your meetings in the future:

1. Set clear a goal for the meeting and communicate it in advance

Establishing a goal for the meeting and communicating this to those attending can help to structure the meeting and provide a focus for the attendees. This may enable the attendees to prepare for the possible topics of discussion, increasing the likelihood of them making valuable contributions or asking important questions. To determine a goal for the meeting, consider the reasons you're holding the meeting, the outcome you're hoping to achieve, any crucial decisions that are necessary to make, any possible obstacles you require a solution for and the individuals you've invited to the meeting.

When you know what you're trying to achieve and the subjects that require discussion, you've got a clear purpose and goal for your meeting. Try to condense this reason into one or two sentences and share this with your meeting attendees either in the meeting invitation or by email. By doing this, you can facilitate a result-driven goal for each business meeting, increase the chances of effective discussion, achieve better outcomes for your meetings and be more efficient with your time.

2. Organise the meeting around driving a decision

Business meetings that result in decision-making can be the most effective for inspiring new ideas, creating a plan of action and solving a problem. If you wish to maintain strong management of meetings, you might find it beneficial to establish a set structure that revolves around decision-making. You can use your established goal, as outlined in tip one, to determine the decisions you intend to make or discuss within the meeting. This can help you conduct time-efficient meetings, which may be beneficial if you work in a fast-paced environment.

If you're meeting with a client, ask them what they would like to discuss during your time together. If you find their responses to be at odds with what you have prepared, you may not have organised the meeting agenda around making a shared decision. This could make the meeting unproductive and can prevent you from reaching a shared understanding. If the purpose of the meeting is to brainstorm, it may be best to treat this differently than a business meeting. If the meeting focuses on presenting information, frame this around aiding a decision or coordinating a plan of action.

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition With Tips

3. Pay attention to whom you invite to the meeting

To facilitate a more productive meeting and maintain focus, ensure that those in attendance are directly necessary for reaching the objective of the meeting. To help make sure that the meetings start and finish on time, with room for effective discussion, try to limit the number of participants to five or fewer if possible. Decide on the people you invite to attend the meeting around the subjects you're discussing, the individuals who may possess vital pieces of information and the purpose of your meeting. For example, having an odd number of attendees may be more effective for vote-taking and decision-making.

When determining who to invite, consider individuals who hold relevant knowledge, those who may be crucial to implementing an action plan, those in supervisory positions who can sign off decisions and any team members who the problem or decision being addressed may directly affect. Make sure you communicate with attendees who the key decision-makers are, who's leading the meeting and who is the point of contact for follow-up or questions.

4. Write a detailed plan that covers the course of the meeting

If you devise a detailed agenda that defines the structure of the meeting, including all the different topics of discussion, you may avoid deviating from the intended course and extending the meeting beyond the expected time. You may start your meetings with a brief overview of the meeting's structure, following this plan as a guide. In your plan, note your goals for the meeting, any questions you have, the purpose behind each topic, the individual with the most expertise on each subject, the individual leading a particular part of the meeting and any voting necessary to pass decisions.

Try to include estimates of the time you want to spend on each topic to ensure your meeting fits with any time constraints. Allow space for answering questions or encouraging input from the attendees. If your meeting focuses on finding a solution to a problem, consider sharing your meeting plan with the attendees in advance, either by printing the plan or emailing it to them. This may encourage the participants to prepare potential solutions and brainstorm ideas for a more productive meeting. This may also help your participants to feel invested because they're able to contribute to the meeting.

Related: How To Write a Meeting Agenda: Template and Example

5. Consider using automation software to schedule your meetings

Using automation software or scheduling tools can help to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to schedule meeting participants. Automation may be extremely effective if the meetings you conduct recur regularly, such as monthly performance reviews. The benefits of automation software to regulate and schedule your meeting invitations include advanced scheduling, the ability to set the event into an online calendar, an email confirmation of the meeting and integrated reminder notifications.

By implementing automation, you can streamline how you schedule your meetings and increase the number of participants that attend the meeting on time. If your choice of software permits it, it may also be helpful to include any preparation materials, such as the meeting's goal, along with the invitation.

6. Change where you hold your meetings regularly

Keeping your meetings fresh and exciting for participants can be as simple as changing the environment in which you host your meetings. This may increase productivity, as when participants get too comfortable with their environment, they may disengage. You can combat this by conducting your meeting at a different venue, such as a local coffee shop or a new room in the office.

A change of environment can disrupt routine and help to break up cliques, which may lead to greater creativity and optimal problem-solving. A different meeting venue may also force participants to be more alert to the unfamiliar environment, which can result in more engagement with the meeting's contents.

7. Encourage the full participation of the attendees

While it's not your job when hosting a meeting to keep the attendees entertained, it may be important to retain engagement when you're sharing important information or discussing a big decision. To foster better communication and focus from the attendees, try to introduce a conversational style of discussion during parts of the meeting. This may include asking open-ended questions to the participants that may engage their active listening, problem-solving and logical thinking skills.

Questions you may ask during meetings with team members include 'does anyone have other recommendations or thoughts?' and 'does anyone foresee any issues with this solution/approach?' As you finish the meeting, you can also assign tasks to some attendees if you have established a plan of action. For meetings with clients or prospective stakeholders, you may ask, 'what are some trends you are seeing in your field that you would like to stay competitive with?' or 'can you tell me a bit more about your company?''

Related: How To Motivate Your Employees With 11 Impactful Strategies

8. Set meeting expectations and remove possible distractions

Outline your meeting expectations to gain the focus on the attendees. You may do this at the beginning of the meeting by telling the participants that you plan to follow the meeting's agenda and that you expect their full attention. Mentioning that the agenda includes some time at the end of the meeting for discussion or questions may show the participants that you may ask them to contribute their ideas, which can keep them alert, following the line of discussion.

To limit the number of distractions, ask those in attendance to silence or put away their phones and put aside any documents that are not related to the meeting. While some companies may rely on smartphones or laptops to track client communication or note key updates, ensure you only allow these in meetings when it's necessary.

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