Team meeting? When I say internal meetings, what comes to mind? Dread, long, drawn-out conversations… 

If your meetings drag on if they’re not very useful, if they don’t provide an avenue for you to make decisions and to have good quality discussions in your business, then something’s not quite right. 

I’m going to share my top 10 tips to help you have much more effective meetings in your business. 

Tip number one is very simple: start and stop your meetings on time, pretty straightforward, but very few people do this. If your meeting is supposed to begin at 10 o’clock, everybody should be ready at 5 to 10 to hit the ground running at 10 o’clock. If you need to stop at 11 o’clock, you should stop at 11 o’clock that way; everybody knows that they can trust that meeting to stop and start on time and plan their diaries accordingly.

Tip number two is, again, really really simple make sure that you have a proper agenda for all of the meetings in your business. You should be crystal clear on the outcomes of all of the meetings that you have in your company, and your agenda should be built in a way that supports those outcomes. 

For extra points, make sure that you have a timestamp next to every one of those agenda points to know how long you should take on those agenda points and therefore you know how much time you’ll need for your meetings. 

Tip number three is to make sure that everybody’s fully prepared for your meetings; make sure that you are clear on what preparation needs to happen because if people are fully prepared, then you can get down to what you need to in the meeting instead of trying to digest loads of complicated information or even trying to figure out specific outcomes or even trying to get down to the bottom of what the real question is. 

People need to come to your meetings with all of those things figured out specific questions, specific issues, specific bottlenecks agendas need to be populated in advance where that is necessary and where possible, make sure that you don’t let people off the hook and get them prepared before you have your meetings. 

Number four is ban waffle. If people go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, make sure that you stop giving everybody permission in the meeting to call anybody out if they go on for more than they need to, which applies to you. 

Tip number five is: no distractions, No mobile phones, no people walking in asking random questions, anything that stops people from being 100% present and focused in that meeting should not be allowed. 

Number six: no bumping, no moving and no booking over Your meetings are sacred; don’t allow people to book customer meetings over your meetings; don’t allow people to move your meetings around all the time don’t nudge them around, don’t skip them meetings are important and if you have consistent meetings that are effective they become so much more valuable than any single client or supplier meeting in your company. 

Point number seven is to make sure that you have effective and focused chairing in your meetings. Whoever is the chairperson of that meeting needs to make sure that the agenda points are stuck to, that the timings are stuck to, that people that aren’t prepared are not allowed to go on and waffle any information that is just a little bit too complex to digest in the meeting is taken offline, any conversations that only involve one or two people in the meeting are taken offline, and that agenda points are clearly summarised and that actions are identified, and things move along so that the meeting is high energy and useful for everybody involved. 

Tip number eight is to stop the one-way traffic. If you are the person that is always talking whilst everybody else is just a bit of a passenger in your meeting, then change it. Use your agenda to empower other people to contribute to the meeting, make sure that they are fully prepared, set clear expectations of what you want from them, and then give that responsibility over to them; that way, it becomes everybody’s meeting not just yours. 

Number nine is differentiating between facts and opinions. Both are valid, but facts are so much more useful when it comes to detailed discussions and making decisions. Suppose you are having big conversations, and everyone’s just putting their opinion on the table. In that case, you’re probably wasting time, and you’re not going to reach the quality of the decision that you need to, on whatever topic it is. 

And finally, tip number 10 is to banish the minutes and to use a “who, what, when” Personally, I hate minutes, it’s such a waste of time for the person that has to compile them, nobody ever reads them afterward so instead of having minutes all you need is a very simple one-page document that says “who, what and when” and what you need to do is record initials, specific actions, and specific deadlines.

So there you go, my top 10 tips

Having great meetings is really about improving the meeting discipline in your business. 

If you can get the 10 things that I’ve just shared working well and consistently, your meetings will be so much more valuable and so much more effective so, what two or three things do you need to work on this week?.

If you’re looking for more new business advice, then we’d like to see you every week on “Mind Your Own Business,

Marco Soares is an award-winning business coach based in Sussex and is available if you’d like help implementing any of the tactics from “Mind Your Own Business”.