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Top Tips for a Productive Meeting

When running a business you may find that there are meetings going on almost 24/7 and you may be meeting with the same clients week after week. These repeat meetings could be due to information being missed or not explained properly. By following these tips you will soon find that your meetings will become more productive and in turn, you will be spending more time working and less time in meetings.

1. Start on time

This can be hard to enforce with clients, we all know of the clients that phone up five minutes before the start time and ask for it to be moved to a later time or even date. However, by starting the meeting on time you then know how long you can work before anyone gets there and you can also try and predict the finishing time of the meeting. This can be useful if you have several meetings lined up in one day.

2. State your goals

By outlining your goals at the beginning of the meeting you will be able to keep everyone on task while it takes place. An example of a meeting goal with a client could be "This meeting is to outline the products offered by us and obtain feedback on prices and quantities." This goal is vague enough that a meeting needs to take place to fulfil the needs of the goal but is also informative of the needs of the meeting.

Having an outline can also mean you can keep the meeting on track and not allow it to be used to talk about anything and everything. This can make your meetings more productive by sticking to the original aims of the meeting.

An outline can be done in the form of preparation notes or a meeting agenda. However you decide to accomplish this is up to you, but you will soon be able to see that your meetings are much more productive once you start implementing this.

3. Keep the meeting small

You may think that having more opinions in a meeting can only be a good thing, however, you will probably find that most of the participants will only be there as spectators. These people fail to provide anything useful to the meeting and are tied up away from the work they are meant to be doing. Due to this, it is recommended that meetings are kept to between 5 and 9 people. In this size of a meeting, there will be enough of a gathering to get varied opinions and it will also be small enough so that there are no spectators in the crowd.

Meeting with a laptop

4. Everyone walks away with something

This doesn't have to be structured notes that were pre-prepared, it could be something as simple as a business card or even an idea. When you're meeting with clients, giving them something physical will allow them to see something of yours that makes them think about you during deliberations. If your meeting is internal, then having employees leaving with an idea of where they're going next or self-written notes, can be just as useful. If you and your client managed to get an idea started on where to go next then it's more likely that they'll come back to you in order to finish the idea and see it through to completion. (Note: don't outline too much of the idea or they could take it to a competitor; say just enough to get them intrigued enough to come back to you). You could even write an action plan after the meeting on what will be completed and what the client can expect from you, as well as what you expect from them. This means there will be another point of contact and another opportunity to make them think of you.

5. Bring Solutions not problems

If you've been developing a product for a client then you may hit a brick wall in the development and need to talk to the client about how to proceed. Turn this into a positive not a negative. Rather than saying "Oh sorry I can't see how we can proceed with this, it just won't work" say something along the lines of "In its current form it won't work, however, if we change it slightly in this way then it should still work as proposed, it may just look a little different". Here the client can see you've been thinking about how you get the product to work instead of pushing it onto the back burner and trying to ignore the problem.

6. Sometimes you need to get creative

Although it was mentioned above about creating an agenda, but sometimes you just need to throw it out and have a meeting of ideas. An example of this could be that the client has brought in their own agenda, so now you're working towards two of them. You know what you want to get out of the meeting, but the client has their own needs. Sometimes they may be on the same lines but then at others you may find that they are very different, it's basically like having two meetings in one. It just doesn't work. If you find yourself in this scenario just forget about having an agenda, throw the plan out the window, and see what your client wants from you. This way they can see that you're adaptable and willing to change when the need arises.

Summing Up

If you follow these tips, you may find that your meetings are more productive and you're able to devote fewer resources to having continuous meetings.

Just remember: There's no set way to how a meeting should go. There's nothing set in stone about the steps meetings should follow. Your business should hold meetings how you want them held. Just make sure that the meetings are productive and everyone gets what they want from them.

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