There are few words more irritating to entrepreneurs than, “Let’s have a meeting about it!”. If you’re like most business owners, you’re driven to get things done and can’t stand pointless meetings. What got you here wasn’t managing by committee; it was execution and action.

However, as your business has grown you might have observed that the complexity in running the business has also grown. Decisions that took minutes or seconds to make now take hours, days, or even longer. You see yourself needing the input of other members of the company. The dreaded meeting is often the only way to get everyone on the same page.

What used to be fun and exciting is at risk of being dull and boring. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are four simple things you can implement in all your meetings starting right now to improve the quality and effectiveness of meetings in your business.

Essential Stages of Business Meetings

In all the research and work we have done with teams large and small, all successful meetings have 4 essential steps:

  1. Status: During which all meeting participants have clarity and alignment on the purpose of the meeting, the goals, the agenda, their participation, the meeting leader, and any other meeting details such as duration, location, and logistics.
  2. Accountability: During which all meeting participants report on any commitments they had made to the group prior to the meeting.
  3. Discuss and Solve: During which the group discusses topics, resolves issues, and solves problems.
  4. Action Items: During which all participants have clarity on next steps and their own responsibilities relative to follow-up work that needs to be done.

To accomplish this, follow these simple steps before and during your next meeting:

Step 1: Create and distribute a meeting notice to all participants with the following information:

  • Goals and objectives of the meeting
  • Agenda of the meeting
  • Individual participation expected identified by participant’s name
  • Preparation required by each participant clearly stated and identified by name – provide enough time before the meeting so that the participant has an opportunity to request clarity and complete the task
  • Location, time, and duration of the meeting

Step 2: During the meeting, review the agenda and request each participant to report on their tasks. Refrain from actually discussing the task. Instead, note the task status along with the specific topic to be discussed. Ensure that Steps 1 and 2 do not take more than a few minutes, preferably less than a third of the duration of the meeting

Step 3: Follow steps 1 and 2 with a prioritized discussion of topics and issues. Each topic should be reviewed, discussed, analyzed, and if appropriate, followed up with one or more action items assigned to individual participants for follow-up. Continue this process till a few minutes before the end of the meeting time EVEN IF THERE ARE TOPICS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN DISCUSSED.*

Step 4: Review all the action items that were created and assigned in step 3 and ask each owner if they are clear on what is required and a completion date for each task. If the meeting is held weekly, then the due date is automatically a week out.

* In some situations a team may have to continue the meeting until the matter at hand is resolved and may not be able to conclude at a preset time. This is “fire-fighting” mode and should happen very rarely. If it’s happening frequently, something else is wrong and the team needs to get to the bottom of it.

Enjoy More Productive Business Meetings

By implementing the following steps, you’ll drastically change the complexion of your business meetings. Not only will meetings become less painful but you and your team will reap the rewards from the newly revitalized structure. Visit our Backstory to learn more about how PCS Insight can help your business meetings become more productive and enjoyable.