Being prepared for a meeting is imperative, especially if you’re the host. Whether you’re simply collaborating as a team or meeting with a potential client for the first time, being ready is crucial for both productivity and making a good first impression. But that’s only the first step. How you actually carry out the meeting is just as important. While the best way to host a meeting isn’t going to be exactly the same for everyone, here are a few tips to keep in mind that can help ensure that the time spent is constructive and worthwhile.
Establish a Clear Objective at the Start
To make sure everyone is on the same page from the start, it’s important to be clear about the purpose of the meeting, clarify what you want to accomplish, and define specific goals. You may find it helpful to use dry erase boards to list your objectives and the topics you want to cover and cross off items as you go. At the end of the meeting, reiterate the main points you’ve discussed and have clear action steps to follow. This will help each person understand their role and individual tasks moving forward.
It can also be helpful to have someone take notes during the meeting. This way, you’ll have something to reference later and you can even send a follow-up email to attendees to recap, which is a great way to keep everyone on track and accountable.
Remember That Less Can Be More: Keep Content to a Minimum
There can be a tendency to overpack slides with information to cover as much ground as possible. However, this can be counterproductive. Firstly, it may make you more inclined to rely on the slides to conduct the meeting, instead of using them to supplement to the conversation. Slides should be used as a tool to provide structure and help you effectively convey your main points, rather than being used as a script. Secondly, overcrowded slides may become tedious for you and your audience to read, which may deter focus. It’s best to find a way to limit the number of slides you have as well as the amount of content included on each slide. This will help you be concise with your delivery to communicate what’s most important.
Allow Everyone to Participate
While it’s often necessary to have a designated host to keep the meeting on track, make sure you aren’t the only one talking. Meetings are a great opportunity to collaborate, which can only happen when everyone has a chance to add to the discussion. Plus, more contribution may lead to new ideas to consider which could end up being invaluable. Additionally, welcoming conversation shows that you value other opinions and are open to suggestions. To keep the conversation going, be sure to ask questions and invite others to do the same.
End the Meeting Early
Think of it like restaurant wait times. If people are told that there will be a fifteen-minute wait and instead it ends up only being five minutes, they’re generally going to be appreciative. On the other hand, if the opposite happens and they have to wait longer, they’re likely not going to be pleased.
With meetings, the same concept applies. Running over the scheduled duration of the meeting can be frustrating and some attendees may become preoccupied if they have somewhere else to be shortly after. Ending your meeting a few minutes early is respectful of other people’s time. This is also another reason to have a clear objective from the beginning and keep the content of your presentation to a minimum. Doing both of these things will help make it easier to end earlier than planned.
Meetings are meant to be helpful, not complicated. Make it easy by keeping them simple, clear, and concise—and make room for contribution.
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