A How To Guide For Business Meetings

by Denny Strigl

When I ask business school students what they think managers actually do in the course of a workday, the first thing they always say is “attend meetings.” It’s true. Most managers spend a huge chunk of their time attending meetings. And it’s also true that many managers find attending the majority of meetings to be a waste of their time. Meetings typically take too much time and accomplish too little.

In my book, Managers, Can You Hear Me Now?, I discuss several ideas to help managers conduct their meetings and deliver their presentations clearly, concisely and effectively.

Let’s start with a few basics.

First, meetings should have a beginning, a middle and an end. “Of course,” you say.
Unfortunately, many meetings seem to drone on forever or end without a conclusion –which likely results in no one really knowing why they met in the first place or what they are supposed to do next.

Second, meetings should start at the beginning and conclude at the end. Many managers, however, actually start their meetings in the middle. When people attend a meeting the first thing they should be told is why they are there, or the purpose of the meeting. They should be told what they will be expected to know, or more important, do as a result of attending the meeting. When people know these points right at the start, they will find it much easier to focus and to begin thinking about how they will perform the task set forth. The questions they ask will also be more pertinent. At the end, managers should summarize the important points covered and reiterate what attendees are expected to do as a result of attending the meeting. Finally, when presenting to a small group, the best managers I know ask each attendee to summarize what he or she will do and when he or she will do it.

Third, meetings should start and end on time. Period! No excuses! The meeting should have a preannounced — and strictly adhered to — starting and ending time. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, but it also keeps attendees focused and forces presenters to use time efficiently.

Lastly, meetings should never be held simply for the purpose of meeting. And, if there is no purpose for the meeting, it should be canceled. Some of the worst managers I’ve known have held meetings for the purpose of scheduling the time and place for the next meeting!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on meetings. What are some of the best and worst meetings you’ve ever attended?

Next week I’ll review four rules for good business presentations.

Follow me on Twitter @dfstrigl

Leave a Reply