Considering how much time you spend in meetings – anywhere from 11 to 30 or more hours, according to 40 percent of respondents in Plantronics recent global survey – you want to be sure that they are productive and accomplish objectives. Besides having an agenda and staying on topic, it’s important that everyone participates in a meaningful way. But that doesn’t come easy for everyone. Some of your small business team members, especially employees who are new to the work force, may need guidance in order to be more effective meeting participants.
To help ensure team members contribute to your small business meetings, advise them to:
Come prepared: In advance of the meeting, you’ll send everyone an agenda. Not only should participants review it, they should spend time thinking about what they can contribute to each of the topics. If someone is unfamiliar with a topic or not clear about the significance of it, encourage them to send you an email or ask for a quick meeting to get briefed. During the meeting is not the best time for someone to come up to speed on the subject to make meaningful commentary.
Listen: Some participants may come to the meeting ready to convey their opinions about a topic; and you want to encourage them to so. However, in order to move a discussion along everyone needs to listen attentively to each other so they can respond appropriately. After all, as I point out in “Better Meetings: How to deal with personalities that challenge small business meeting success,” a meeting “dominator” can stifle the exchange necessary to achieve meeting goals.
Encourage questions: Asking questions helps to stimulate more discussion. Encourage team members to ask questions that help clarify issues and shed new light on a topic.
Show interest: Body language says a lot about someone’s interest and enthusiasm in a meeting. Advise participants to show interest by looking at the speakers and nodding or smiling to show their support. And it goes without saying that all mobile devices need to be put away so no one is checking email or text instead of paying attention.
Engage each other: Everyone should help to build a team spirit. Encourage your small business team to ask others for input when they are presenting their views or to refer to comments from others to reinforce an idea.
Follow up: Participants should understand if there are action items, they need to follow through and in the time frame required.
Meetings – virtual or in person – are an important part of getting things done and keeping on track at your small business. Make sure everyone understands why they were invited and how much their input matters.
You can find out more about how to run successful meetings and how Plantronics audio technology can help ensure there are no barriers to communication no matter where participants are by downloading The Better Meetings Blueprint.