Better Meetings

When you are sitting in a small business meeting, do you ever wonder how many other people are doing just the same thing? Quite a few as it turns out. In the U.S. alone, there are 25 million formal meetings held each day. With today’s technology, the good news is that not all of those meetings require that everyone sits around a conference table. Thanks to mobile devices and apps and cloud computing, you can initiate or be part of a meeting from just about anywhere, using a headset when necessary to block out background noise so you can hear and be heard.

However while technology may make it easy to get together from anywhere with colleagues or customers to brainstorm, strategize or just catch up on the status of a project, not all meetings result in progress or productivity. In fact, meetings are notorious for being poorly organized and poorly run. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that $37 billion is spent on unproductive meetings each year.

It’s not only the meeting itself that takes time out of a busy week. It takes time to prepare, sometimes with pre meetings, and follow up. Plantronics recently conducted a global survey and found that over 40 percent of respondents spend between 11 and 30 or more hours a week in meetings.

The bottom line is that meetings can cost a lot of your small business time, so you want to be sure you need the meeting and that each one matters.

Is an in-person meeting needed?

Since in-person meetings, in particular, take so much time, at Plantronics as part of our Better Meetings initiative, we suggest reviewing a series of successive questions to determine if one is needed. They include:

  • Have I thought through the situation?
  • Do I need outside input to make progress?
  • Does moving forward require a real-time conversation? (As an option, would an email meet the need?)
  • Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting? (Would a chat, a phone call or video conference suffice?)

If you can answer “yes” to all the questions, then schedule and prepare for the meeting.

Get the most from the meeting

Once the meeting gets underway to avoid wasting time and to get the most from it, be sure to:

Follow the agenda: The agenda is a tool to reach the desired outcome of the meeting. It provides direction and underlines the goal.

Establish clear roles: Understand what each participant will be contributing to the meeting.

Avoid getting sidetracked: Once the meeting gets off on a tangent, it can derail your ultimate goal. If someone raises a topic outside the agenda, earmark it for discussion at another time.

Make sure everyone participates: Conversation and getting balanced input makes a meeting productive. That’s why you want everyone at the meeting to participate.

Stay on time: Keep your eyes on the clock.

Follow up: Document the discussion and share notes after the meeting, inviting commentary or clarification from the participants.

To find out more about conducting Better Meetings that are productive and achieve your small business goals, download Plantronics “The Better Meetings Blueprint.”