Among many things the COVID-19 pandemic changed in the world, the concept of business meetings has undergone a dramatic transformation. For many businesses, meetings that take place on Zoom or other online platforms have become the default choice of venue. For other businesses, as they steadily integrate returning employees into their on-site workplace, it’s time again to resume meetings in person.
Whether you opt for continued virtual meetings or aim to hold meetings in the conference room, here are tips to guide you towards a more productive outcome:
1. Establish a standard schedule.
Meetings that are called on the spur of the moment, or because someone on the team has an unexpected item to discuss, don’t always achieve the desired outcome. Instead, as Microsoft Business Insights suggests, “regularly scheduled meetings are vital for small businesses.” These meetings can be scheduled as daily, weekly, or monthly events, but what’s important is that everyone knows they are part of the accepted workplace calendar.” When this is clear, “it’s more likely everyone will manage their time in order to attend and productively participate.”
2. Practice virtual meetings best practices.
Observing a few best practices can help improve the effectiveness of your virtual meetings. Two TAB members offer helpful tips:
From Daniel Wong, Owner at TAB Brisbane, Australia:
- Put a little distance between yourself and the camera “to create a 3D space.”
- Speak from your diaphragm “as if you were presenting to extend the range of your voice.”
And from Jim Morris, Owner at TAB Tennessee Valley Region:
- Pay attention to whoever is speaking, rather than gazing around the room or talking with others physically in the room for you.
- Give the person talking time to finish what they are saying.
- Keep your computer muted when you’re not speaking and eliminate background noise in the room you’re sitting in.
Things will go well if you “show the same courtesy and professionalism that you would in a live meeting,” Morris adds.
3. Take an active role.
If the meeting is called by the CEO or business owner, it’s his or her obligation to ensure that meeting doesn’t drift into meaninglessness. Either on their own or through a designated group leader, it’s essential to assume an active leadership role that “adheres closely to the agenda, allows no digressions, and pursues a conclusion that leaves all participants with a greater understanding of the issue under discussion—and what steps must be taken to address it, post-meeting.”
4. Make the in-person meeting room “people-friendly.”
In the workplace, the time and setting for a meeting can affect its outcome. The Slack Blog offers these tips:
- Ensure the meeting venue is comfortable, has some natural light, and that the room is set “at an agreeable temperature.”
- Consider the “optimal meeting time” for participants, i.e., in the morning when people are most alert.
- Request (or mandate) that all electronic devices be closed in the meeting space “to reduce technological distractions.”
Setting the proper scene can favorably influence the degree of participation and productivity that results.
5. Address issues, but stress solutions.
Meetings are often called to address a specific operational issue, or group of issues. That’s a good starting point for the meeting, but the focus should always be on finding solutions to those issues.
Consider adopting a freewheeling, brainstorming approach where no idea is “bad.” Or provide a list of suggested solutions and solicit team members’ feedback on those solutions (while leaving the discussion open to additional thoughts). When people come to a meeting with the knowledge that practical solutions are the desired goal, they will be more inclined to attend with the right mindset.
Are you still focused on holding virtual meetings? Read what veteran TAB Owners have to say in “12 Ways to Make Your Virtual Meetings More Effective.”