Regardless of the size and type of your startup, meetings are an important part of any business. Company culture can dictate the frequency of meetings. Some companies schedule a ton of meetings throughout the week, while others choose to have very few.
When determining the frequency and volume of meetings, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s more important to evaluate whether each of your meetings is necessary and whether they are productive. Time spent in a meeting is time away from working on your projects, so you’ll want to ensure the ones you hold are moving your startup forward.
Meetings can bring people and ideas face-to-face and can be an efficient use of your company time. However, you need to set them up in an organized way with clear goals to make this happen.
Creating a meeting agenda, preparing in advance, and inviting key players can lead to a successful meeting. On the other hand, last-minute meetings with the wrong people or too many people can be a waste of time.
Check out these dos and don’ts to guide your startup on the path to successful and productive meetings. Be sure to read to the end for bonus tips on how to have a successful virtual meeting.
- Determine whether a meeting is really needed. If you can accomplish what you need to with an email or a Slack conversation, do so.
- Understand who the key people are for your meeting. If there are decisions to be made, whose presence is required?
- Invite only the people who are absolutely necessary. Meetings take people away from other work, so be respectful when asking people to take time out of their day.
- Use an online calendar to choose a time that works for everyone who needs to attend.
- Communicate the meeting’s goals when sending the invite.
- Develop a clear agenda for the meeting and send it to attendees well in advance.
- Set a clear starting time and ending time for the meeting.
- Be sure to arrive on time or a few minutes early to the meeting.
- Come prepared with any presentation materials. If you need AV support, get everything squared away before other participants arrive. This allows you to jump right in and have well-thought-out discussion on the topic at hand.
- Keep the meeting on track and on topic. As the meeting organizer, you should take charge to keep the meeting running smoothly.
- Determine follow-up and action items. Send out a follow-up email to all attendees with the action items after the meeting.
- Don’t waste your colleagues’ time. If the meeting could be an email, send the email as opposed to pulling everyone away from their daily tasks.
- Don’t let the time slot dictate the meeting length. If your meeting is scheduled for an hour, but you finish in 40 minutes, let everyone go early.
- Don’t overlap your meeting with another. Pay attention to the culture of your company. If there are many meetings that start on the hour, schedule your meeting for 45 minutes to give people a short break before their next commitment.
- Don’t arrive late. It makes everyone else wait for you and puts the meeting behind schedule.
- If you’re an attendee, don’t wait until you arrive at the meeting to read the agenda. Prepare your thoughts ahead of time.
- Don’t get off-topic. Keep the meeting organized by directing the conversation back to the topic at hand if it strays.
- Don’t bury your head in your notes or presentation.
- Don’t cancel the meeting at the last minute. Some people might be traveling in for the meeting and already be en route.
- Don’t allow distractions. It’s frustrating when attendees are on their cell phones or laptops and not paying attention to what is being said.
- Don’t hesitate to ban electronic devices if necessary. For some meetings, it might be appropriate to prohibit laptops, tablets, and phones and go paper only.
- Don’t try to solve everything in one meeting.
The meeting dos and don’ts above can be helpful for in-person and virtual meetings alike. But virtual meetings pose their own set of unique challenges. Since the global pandemic turned the business world on its head, more and more meetings have gone virtual. Here are a few tips to add in if you will be meeting from a remote office.
- When attending a virtual meeting, join from a desktop computer or laptop. In most cases, they provide a better — and certainly less wobbly — connection.
- Check sound and lighting for virtual meetings before joining the call.
- Have a clean and distraction-free background. Make sure everything behind you is work-appropriate.
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking.
- Use the chat box in virtual meetings to ask questions without interrupting.
- Dress as if you were attending in person.
- Avoid odd camera angles. Position your camera at eye level for better engagement.
- Don’t eat while on the call.
- Don’t be the only participant with your video off.
- Don’t look at emails or work on other tasks when you’re in the meeting.
- Don’t leave the meeting abruptly or without notice. Stay until the end, or let your team know you have to go rather than just disconnecting.
Following these meeting dos and don’ts can help you and your team hold productive meetings. You only have so many hours in a day. Make the most of your time and keep your projects and goals moving forward with meetings that are worth their while.