Good meetings are where decisions are made and people are hired. Effective meetings are where focus is shifted and action items are set.
Meetings are important to any business, no matter how big or small.
But for small businesses, making sure that these meetings are truly effective and get the work done, is key to their success.
1. Effective meetings = less time wasted
Small business don’t have extra manpower. You might have one person doing three jobs, or have a small sales team to tackle a large client base, or two developers working on new features that need to be launched tomorrow. You don’t have the luxury of calling a meeting for the sake of a meeting without a specific agenda and without closing the meeting with everyone knowing what needs to be done next.
So what do I do? Make sure the meeting has a specific agenda that everyone knows about, that decisions are summarized during the meeting, and that tasks are assigned to people straight away. Doing this before and during the meeting means that you’ll have to meet less – and waste less of everybody’s time.
2. Effective meetings = good decisions
Small businesses need to stay on top of things. Shifting markets, changing economies, even new ways to promote the business (did someone say Instagram?) crop up all the time. To cope with these changes, and decide which way to move (or not, as the case may be), meetings are held. I know, I’ve been in enough of them. And when the people who come to these meetings don’t come prepared, half of the time is wasted bringing them up to speed, and their decisions are based on 15 minutes of discussion, not true research.
So what do I do? Make sure that people come prepared to the meeting - they’ve done their research, they know their material, and they believe they know which decision is the right one for the company to make. You might send the agenda along with resource material around to everyone a few days before the meeting, you might remind them a few hours before the meeting, or any other method you prefer. Trust me, THEN they’ll come prepared to defend the decision they think is right – and with that information, you’ll be able to make the best decisions for your business.
3. Effective meetings = good for the people
People just don’t like meetings. They think they are a waste of time, that meetings are there to stop them from working, that whatever the meeting is about, decisions are never made, and the only thing that meetings are good for is to set the date for the next meeting.
So what do I do? Schedule your meetings on point and ensure that decisions made in these meetings are the ones that drive your business forward (and aren’t promptly forgotten as soon as the meeting is over). Also, listen to people’s opinion and acting upon them by assigning tasks to be followed through. When your employees see that meetings are really effective, and aren’t just called for the sake of shooting the breeze over morning coffee with ten people, they will see those meetings in a whole new light and respond accordingly, with good will of their own.
Bottom line, good meetings are vital for small businesses, as bad meetings can cause a whole lot more damage than just the wear and tear on the coffee and biscuit fund.