Meetings are organized and conducted in almost all corporate office and business establishments for specific purposes. Meetings are usually arranged to deliver knowledge and information, and discuss central issues and team projects. All crucial decisions taken during a meeting can be recorded and transcribed for future reference with the support of business transcription services. Some organizations hold regular and scheduled meetings as part of their routine work. It is one of the ways to keep your employees informed about the latest work matters, and also keep track of individual and team progress through a healthy discussion.
All members in a meeting must participate equally, but it is not the case in many organizations. Some people consider meetings as an opportunity to boost their ego and this can cause a lot of trouble. In the presence of such participants who are overwhelming, others may be dissuaded to speak. Typically, in team meetings a minority group does all the speaking while the majority listen. Meeting organizers must strive to make all participating members to actively engage in the conversation. So, how can this be achieved? For a meeting to be successful, organizers must have a clear plan regarding what to do before, during and after the meeting.
What to Do Before the Meeting
- Plan the meeting with the help of other employees and come up with doable goals for the meeting. The goals you set act as the framework for effective planning.
- Once the meeting plan is ready, make sure whether a meeting is the right way to accomplish the goals you have in mind. Conducting a meeting is an expensive affair. So determine whether a meeting is the right opportunity to solve the problem and improve the process.
- Some pre-work before the meeting helps the members of the meeting to be prepared. Providing enough preparation time for the participants would ensure productive results. Provide pre-work charts, graphs, and reading materials 48 hours before the meeting.
- Come up with interesting topics and this helps to build enthusiasm during the meeting. It generates a sense of accomplishment and complete commitment from the participants.
The Meeting – Important Considerations
- The time of the day is crucial: Mostly, people do not actively participate in a meeting because they are bored, or feel sleepy, or feel trapped. Make sure that the meeting is scheduled during mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
- Try holding meetings at different locations, and at different times: Holding your meetings at different locations at different times will serve as a wake-up call or stimulant for the participants. Ian Gilbert, one of the UK’s leading educational innovators, in a guest post in Irish Tech News recommends this tactic. He points out that the human brain likes habits, or the things it can do without having to think. This is because the brain can have an easy time. When something is done as a habit, it goes to sleep. The minute you change the habitual item, such as change the regular meeting time or location, the brain wakes up because it has some work to do. As a result, you will approach each meeting differently, will be more alert, and innovative because we are all subconsciously influenced by the environment.
- Request participants not to use their mobile devices: Mobile phones and devices are a major source of distraction. When these are kept away, you become more attentive and involved in what is being discussed.
- Keep your meetings short: Our attention span is limited. Any meeting that goes beyond an hour will prove boring. When you strive to keep your meetings short, your team will be kept on track without digressing into unproductive work.
- Limit the number of participants: The “two pizza” meeting rule credited to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is relevant in this regard, i.e. no meeting should have more people in it than two large pizzas can feed. In other words, a team comprising around 8 staff members would be ideal. Bezos thinks that more effective communication is possible with small teams. Moreover, there is lesser chance of conversations dragging on or involving divergent discussions.
- Use visuals for better audience involvement: Audio alone may not be sufficient to retain the audience’s attention. Incorporate some visuals to supplement your speech. Presentations, images and charts, capturing your ideas on a whiteboard may all help considerably.
- Encourage others to contribute to the discussion: Make sure that you give opportunities for people to express their views. Ask for input and invite questions from the audience. Also, it is best to have an audience comprising experts as well as non-experts and novices. You should ensure that quiet people are given a chance to speak up because they may have valuable contributions to make.
- If you are aiming for a proper discussion, start with a question: This is important because it presents the problem to be debated. You have to spend some time thinking about the best question that is to the point, and would generate precise answers. Your question shouldn’t be “leading” in the sense it should not bias the answers. Putting a question to the audience suggests that you want a real debate; also, it acts as an invitation/encouragement for people to voice their own ideas, which may be different from each other.
- Create small groups and give them specific tasks: In case you have a large group, you can divide people into small groups and give them tasks. Then, bring them together and get them to share their ideas. This tactic will encourage everyone to speak up and contribute to the discussion, making the meeting lively and interactive.
- Ensure that you give credit where it is due: When somebody comes up with a good idea, reward them. This will give them the confidence to participate more actively, and also encourage other members to voice their ideas.
What to Do After the Meeting
- Publish the minutes of the meeting: Make sure that you publish the minutes and action plan within 24 hours. Participants will have a fresh memory of the meeting, what was discussed, and reasons for the direction chosen. They will be enthusiastic and willing to get started.
- Ensure effective meeting follow-up: To achieve results from your meetings, respect and observe deadlines. Once the meeting is over, each person with an action item must also make a good plan to achieve their entrusted goals. The meeting planner must follow up with each person who has an action item. This helps to check progress and ensure that the tasks are being done.
Meetings and meeting transcription are important requirements in business organizations looking to gain actionable insight and improve their bottom line. Active engagement of all people concerned can generate more innovative ideas. People can build on the comments and ideas of one another. Business meeting organizers must think creatively and organize interesting get-togethers that will prove fruitful for the organization. The ideas mentioned above should help in this regard.