By Ashley Preen

November 11, 2015

How to make small business meetings useful

Most people hate meetings because they know that they usually get nothing solved and so are a massive waste of time, time that could be spent doing actual work.However, meetings can actually be useful if you follow our simple steps - soon your small business will be holding meetings that aren’t a complete waste of time.Only hold meetings which have a clear purposeThis is very simple, yet many small businesses still get it wrong: if you want to call a meeting, there needs to be a very clear purpose for the meeting. If it’s somebody else calling for the meeting, ask them its purpose before saying you’ll attend.Give everybody who you want to attend plenty of noticeIf you want a meeting to be useful, you need people to come into it well-prepared, not in a rush because they’ve had to quickly drop everything they were doing to attend the meeting.You need to give everybody plenty of notice of when there’s going to be a meeting - you should always aim for at least three days advanced notice. Everyone will now be able to enter it into their diaries and can plan their other work and appointments around the meeting, while having plenty of time to think of ideas to bring up in the meeting.Make sure even the quietest employees are heardLike everywhere else in life, businesses have the louder, more extraverted employees, and it also has the quieter, more introverted employees.It’s easy in a meeting to allow the louder employees to drown out the quieter ones. But it’s the job of the meeting’s host to make sure everybody gets an equal chance to be heard, as anybody in the meeting could have great ideas which will be made useless if they are not heard.Only attend meetings where you can offer something usefulFor any meeting to be successful you need to invite employees from various departments - of course, if you’re still a very small business you will probably be inviting every employee.But if you get invited to a meeting where you know you won’t be able to contribute anything useful, try to find the courage to decline the invitation - your time will be better spent doing something more productive, like your actual job.All meetings need a follow upSo, there were employees in the meeting who could have been doing other work, but it is okay because the meeting meant you got to discuss some important topics and there were some great ideas on how the business can achieve its goals.But all of those ideas will go to waste if they do not result in action. Everybody who attended the meeting (and maybe even those who did not) need to be updated on the objectives, the actions that need to be taken to achieve those objectives, and when the actions need to be completed by.For any of these tips to work, everybody in the business who can call a meeting needs to be aware of them. It can take time for every employee to change how they behave in regard to meetings, but doing so will make meetings actually useful again, and not something most employees dread.