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Tips for Running an Effective Business Meeting

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/10/2010

Whether you’re a new business owner or an old pro, tips on how to run an effective business meeting are something you need. Some business owners fear the business meeting, however, they can be designed to flow smoothly with the results you want.

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    Plan for Success

    Diverse Business Meeting by Leadership Training Most of us have experienced both interoffice and client meetings that turn into a free for all. Why? There is no agenda, no focus, and no real planning for the meeting. For business meetings to be effective and resolve an issue or to decide on business issues, planning is essential. Things like time management, good content, and the ability to keep the meeting under control are all important.

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    Steps to Running an Effective Business Meeting

    To take control of your meetings, follow these steps on how to run an effective business meeting:

    • Plan – If you’ve called for a meeting, are you prepared? To ensure success, make sure you have all the documents, information, and are fully knowledgeable about the purpose of the meeting as well as what is and what is not pertinent for the meeting.
    • Set a Time Limit – Never set up a meeting without a time limit or you can be sure it will turn into a free for all. Look at your plan for the meeting and decide upon how much time you’ll need to obtain the required input from all attendees. Be sure to stick with the time limit.
    • Have an Agenda – If you hand meeting participants an agenda at the start of the meeting, they can clearly see in black and white what is to be covered. Holding a meeting without an agenda could amount to issues being discussed that have no bearing on the issues at hand. Stick to the agenda. Some meeting experts even set time limits by each agenda item. A meeting agenda template can be found in our Media Gallery.
    • Stay on Topic – As the meeting organizer, make sure everyone understands the topic of the meeting. If the meeting is about how to handle your customer service, it’s not the time to talk about problems in the employee break room. If people stray, get them quickly back in focus.
    • Handouts – Beyond the agenda, if you or meeting participants have handouts, make sure everyone receives them. Handouts don’t necessarily have to be entirely reviewed during the meeting but are a good source of information for everyone after the meeting is concluded to aid them in implementing meeting outcomes.
    • Meeting Quandaries – Some meeting organizers find this in participants who disagree and use the meeting as a forum to express opinions back and forth. Let attendees know whether or not people disagree, at the meeting they should agree to disagree in order for the meeting to be successful.
    • Q&A – Put a question and answer session on your meeting agenda. Once the purpose of the meeting has been determined and attendees know the road that needs to be traveled so to speak, some people may have questions. A good Q&A session can also help you determine if there was an area or agenda item that wasn’t fully covered.
    • Close the Meeting – Give a brief statement about what decisions were made during the meeting and make sure everyone is in agreement or understands the next steps they will be following.
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    What if Issues are Unresolved?

    Shaking Hands by Curtis Pope A good tip to keep in mind on how to run an effective business meeting is that often, some issues may remain unresolved. While these issues can be handled in a subsequent meeting, try and hold unresolved issues to items that need to be investigated further before discussed.

    If you plan your meeting well, set an agenda and time limit, and have an effective question and answer session, your business meetings should flow smoothly and offer real results.