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Business meetings serve a variety of functions, but they lose their purpose if they're poorly run. Identifying goals before the meeting takes place is important for keeping it on track. With a clear objective in mind, you can conduct a meeting that focuses on end results and makes attendees feel their time was well-spent rather than wasted.
A concise agenda of the points to be covered is the most important item for a well-run meeting. If the meeting is recurring, such as a weekly project update meeting, use the minutes from the prior meeting to help create the new agenda and identify old business to go over before moving on to new business. Keep a time limit in mind when creating the agenda so you stick to the major points. Distribute the agenda to attendees before the meeting, but bring extra copies for those who need them.
A designated leader keeps discussions on track and follows the agenda in an orderly manner. A focused leader ensures that a meeting doesn’t stray from the subjects under discussion. Give the leader a way to keep track of time during the meeting. If a set amount of time is assigned to each item on the agenda, create a separate agenda that includes the time limits and give it to the leader.
Whether your meeting is held in a conference room in your place of business or a rented room in an outside venue, ensure that it's large enough to accommodate all of the attendees. Each space at a conference table should have sufficient elbow room and space for equipment, such as a laptop. Make sure that electrical outlets are easy to access to accommodate equipment and devices. If the meeting requires visual aids, check to see whether whiteboards or projector screens are available.
Equipment and Supplies
Attendees may bring their own laptops or pads for making notes during a meeting, but it’s still a good idea to provide writing materials for those who forget. Identify equipment needs before the meeting. For example, if a projector is required, ensure that it’s in working order and set it up before the meeting starts. If you’re using a whiteboard, stock up on markers and an eraser. If you need to distribute business materials to attendees, ensure that you have a sufficient supply.
A meeting secretary isn't necessarily an actual secretary, but someone who is designated to record the minutes of the meeting. Accurate notes that clearly and concisely summarize items discussed and decisions made are essential to the purpose of a meeting and help create agendas for subsequent meetings. The secretary can take notes by hand or type them up on a laptop as the meeting takes place. Edited copies are often distributed to meeting attendees at a later date.
Since 1997, Maria Christensen has written about business, history, food, culture and travel for diverse publications. She ran her own business writing employee handbooks and business process manuals for small businesses, authored a guidebook to Seattle, and works as an accountant for a software company. Christensen studied communications at the University of Washington and history at Armstrong Atlantic State University.