If you ever worked in the corporate world before starting your own business, you know what a time- and energy-drain meetings can be. As an entrepreneur, you may not have the endless meetings a corporate employee is subject to, but you’ve still got to meet with clients, prospects, partners and your team (if you have one) from time to time.
So how can you make sure your meetings actually accomplish something? Try these tips.
1. Plan ahead.
Create an agenda for each meeting and share it with everyone who’ll be attending. Also let them know if they need to do anything specific to prepare, such as brainstorming ideas to present or doing research.
2. Take charge.
Meetings without leaders don’t get very far. You can be the leader yourself or, if you tend to get sidetracked or get overly wound up in discussion, make one of your employees the leader and have him or her keep everyone on track, keep the agenda moving forward and take notes on next steps.
3. Turn off the tech.
You probably need a couple laptops or tablets to take notes or look up data, but try to eliminate unnecessary technology use at meetings. If you see people surreptitiously checking email under the table, 1) take it as a sign your meeting isn’t moving forward fast enough and 2) ask them to turn off their devices.
4. Streamline meetings.
It’s easy to get into the habit of holding meetings every week because you’ve always done it that way. Break the habit by holding meetings only when necessary. If you do need to do weekly meetings, keep them short by holding them standing up. Also consider whether in-person meetings can be just as easily held online using collaboration tools like Skype or GoToMeeting.
5. Keep energy levels high.
If you have to hold a long meeting, keep everyone energized by providing light, healthy snacks, refreshing beverages like water and tea, and have short breaks. Getting everyone on their feet once an hour to stretch, walk around the room or do some yoga moves will keep the blood (and the ideas) flowing.