What is a company meeting

Organize meetings: how to properly plan work meetings and conferences

In the following article you will read how to organize a meeting or a meeting, how to record results, write minutes and which order makes sense for a meeting.

With these important tips for preparing and conducting a meeting, as well as a checklist, your next meeting or conference will be a complete success.

 

The meeting: why meetings are essential

Many employees perceive meetings as an annoying evil in their everyday work: Meetings take up time and are often perceived as not profitable. Other (negative) numbers speak for themselves: In the USA, over 11 million meetings are held every day.

However, one in three of them starts late. This is a real problem with meeting popularity not skyrocketing. Despite everything, meetings are essential for a successful day-to-day work.

Much information is now conveyed via text messages, e-mails or phone calls. However, these alternatives cannot replace important aspects of a personal conversation. Much is lost in digital communication. Direct reactions are usually completely eliminated, as are human facial expressions and gestures.

Face-to-face communication is more immediate, more efficient and usually more profitable. One reason why meetings are so relevant to a company's day-to-day work.

What are meetings important for?

Meetings are work meetings at which certain goals are to be achieved - in the shortest possible time. They provide a framework to:

  • to exchange ideas,
  • Contribute content
  • and to find solutions in dialogue

It is the wish of every company that employees work closely together. That requires a greater need for coordination. In addition, a rapid change in the corporate environment is one reason why specialists and managers have to get together to initiate changes, solve problems and drive projects forward.

Meetings are therefore an integral part of a company and are relevant for its positive development. All the more negatively, meetings that do not increase work efficiency, but rather run without a goal or structure, are perceived as being all the more negative.

What problems do meetings occur?

In meetings, poor preparation or time pressure can mean that those present perceive the meeting as superfluous and ineffective. This often results from the fact that the structure of the meeting is too interchangeable. Accordingly, the session is perceived as boring. Long lectures and presentations as well as unstructured discussions also drag on the meeting unnecessarily.

Furthermore, many meetings can be too disorganized and too loose. Open discussions and brainstorming sessions do not reveal a clear common thread. The meeting runs aimlessly in the sand. The participants have the impression that they have spent their working hours unnecessarily. In the end, they may even have to work overtime because the workload gets out of hand. Sometimes meetings have the smack of a “coffee gossip”. Meetings are turned into private conversations. The actual goal of the interview is lost sight of.

Another reason why meetings are often not perceived as positive is the rigid, hierarchical nature of meetings. Often employees do not even have the opportunity to creatively participate in the design of a meeting, to advance the company and to add their own points of discussion. This leads to a feeling of exclusion and frustration among those involved. As a result, the working atmosphere is also deteriorating. An aspect to be avoided!

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Organizing meetings: this is important

Without question: Digitization also affects the office and meeting culture. It makes sense to shift conversations to media devices. Virtual meetings have the advantage that employees who work abroad or from home can also take part.

This not only saves travel costs and time. It is also the most sustainable way to guarantee good cooperation and quick agreements within the company. Every business trip that is not taken reduces global CO2 emissions.

However, virtual meetings cannot replace all company discussions. It is therefore important to consider other aspects and tips in order to organize an efficient and goal-oriented meeting.

The right preparation

Good preparation for a meeting is half the battle. It is therefore important to check the functionality of the technical devices in the meeting room in advance. So there are no nasty surprises during the lecture. It is also advisable to distribute the seats and make sure that everyone present can see the speaker or the main screen comfortably and without restriction.

The following five tips are also relevant when preparing for a meeting.

1. Read the agenda - even if there isn't one

There should be an agenda for every meeting. In terms of content, this can range from a few bullet points to a dossier including a short biography of each participant. It serves as a red thread and informs the conversation partner in advance about the purpose and background of the personal or virtual meeting. This means that these points do not have to be clarified at the beginning of the meeting, which saves valuable time.

A short, superficial agenda is therefore better than none at all. If there are none, it is best to ask again when organizing the meeting about the reason for the meeting and what was going to be discussed. Just a few bullet points can be informative here.

Questions that are useful in preparing your meeting agenda

  • What are the company's goals?
  • What are the main topics of the meeting?
  • Which approach is sensible?

This structure prevents the participants from rushing directly to a topic at the beginning of the meeting and then getting lost in it. With an agenda or a rough topic plan, you can be sure that all important points are addressed.

2. Does participation make sense at all?

The agenda also helps to identify the reason for attending a meeting or whether and why this makes sense at all.

One possible scenario: For example, members of the sales team receive an invitation to a marketing meeting. At first glance, it may seem unclear why this meeting was scheduled or why people from other business areas were invited. However, the agenda informs that the marketing team needs an opinion from the sales department on content to be posted on the website.

With a strong prior knowledge, the participants can then make an individual and useful contribution to the meeting. That doesn't delay this step for another meeting. The motto therefore applies: Inform all participants in advance about their respective roles. Only in this way can the interviewees prepare adequately.

3. Recognize your own role in the meeting

Nobody is in a meeting for no reason - or should be. The book Let's Stop Meeting Like This According to von Dick and Emily Axelrod, each participant in such a meeting falls into one of three categories: leader, contributor, or facilitator.

The head

He has the formal authority or is at least the person who called the meeting. He has a responsibility to make sense of the meeting. In preparation, the leader can ask: What decisions should be made as a result of this meeting?

The task of the meeting leader is to establish a common thread for the meeting. In addition, he is the person who decides who exactly from the company should take part in the conversation and must therefore be invited.

The contributors

As a general rule, you don't just take part in a meeting to be there. Everyone should be focused on making the decisions made by the leader. It is important to be prepared for this. This is the only way to bring ideas into the discussion and actively participate in the meeting.

Accordingly, the participants are there to provide the information they need. For example, the sales figures for the fourth quarter are discussed. A contributor has the task of presenting the sales figures for his area. This helps colleagues to get a better overview, as the information is given directly by the responsible department. The experts are even present if you have any questions.

The intermediaries

The role of facilitators is to help the group achieve its purpose. You drive the entire discussion and therefore have a subordinate leadership position within the meeting. In addition, they pay attention to the time or explain subject-specific terms and problems to non-specialist subjects. A mediator also ensures that everyone has a chance to have their say or ensures that the discussion does not derail.

 

4. Organize the meeting: insist on the right preparation

You have read the agenda, you know what it is about and what role you play in the meeting. Now is the time to think about the content and to note the most important points. Pages of notes should not be made for this. A note with a few bullet points that help not to lose the central theme is ideal.

It is important to be well prepared. There is seldom time during the meeting to think about it. Many ideas and solutions are created in cooperation with the group. But even for this, the topic must have been well thought out beforehand. If you are the organizer of a meeting, you should insist that all participants prepare accordingly.

5. Present contributions clearly

It is also essential for good preparation to take all relevant materials with you to the meeting. To do this, you should plan to what extent you want to incorporate this at which point in the meeting. The more participants, the more likely it is that you won't be able to say everything you want to say. The more succinctly the individual contributions are summarized, the more time there is at the end to discuss additional details.

Meetings become much more interactive and interesting if the content is not only presented verbally, but also supported by catchy material. Having visual impressions to support what is being said will make it easier for participants to understand and remember them.

Thanks to modern presentation systems, it is now possible to quickly import content from smartphones, tablets or laptops that you have brought with you. A picture or a technical drawing of the current project, the exhibition stand or a technical novelty, a graphic for statistics or a short video save time. They usually describe the matter better than a long explanation.

The course of the meeting

If you have drawn up a plan in advance, it makes sense to go through the agenda again at the beginning of the session. If there is none, the start of a meeting is the time to agree on the items on the program and to create a schedule. For this it is important that those present agree on the items on the agenda.

Not only good preparation is important for a successful and profitable meeting. The structuring and design of the lecture is also relevant. The following tips will help you organize meetings more efficiently.

Tip 1: clarify the order of the topics

Since the program topics are often related at a meeting, it is advisable to clarify the order. When does who talk about what? For example, there is no need to debate investments if the financial report shows that our coffers are empty.

But even if the topics are not related, you should clarify with the participants: In which order do we discuss which topics? Because because of their position in the company, those present attach different importance to them.

Therefore, if you do not vote on what will be dealt with first and what will be dealt with later, there is a risk that some participants will be upset because “their” topics will be discussed at the end. And they are completely annoyed when “their” topics are only dealt with quickly or even postponed because time is running out. The motivation to implement resolutions after the meeting is correspondingly low.

Tip 2: Use media and fix intermediate results

In many meetings, tools are only used to present prepared content. Common presentation media include:

  • Flip charts
  • (Moderation) boards
  • projector

It makes sense to use these tools during the meeting as well. If the proposals are worked out and their advantages and disadvantages discussed, this can be wonderfully sketched out. This will avoid endless debates in which the same arguments are put forward over and over again. Be it because the interim results were not recorded or the participants do not have the connections “in mind”.

Therefore: Use presentation media to record interim results, to substantiate arguments and to draw links. This will make it easier for you and your colleagues too.

It is also advisable to draw up a protocol. This can be done by someone from the discussion group, but another person can also be entrusted with this task, such as the assistant to the management.

Tip 3: record who is doing what and by when

Anyone who has been allowed to or had to organize meetings knows that time often runs out at some point in the meeting. The participants look more and more often at the clock. The planning of measures is correspondingly hasty because everyone thinks: The others will already know what needs to be done.

The result: Much of what everyone thinks will be done at the next meeting is not done. Also because, without a plan of action, it was not possible to check whether the necessary initiatives had been taken. The mood at the next meeting is correspondingly bad. Because everyone thinks: Now we have to debate it again.

Therefore, it is all the more important to distribute the tasks towards the end of the meeting and to determine by when the respective employee has to do this. In this way, a good interaction can be guaranteed.

Tip 4: give and get feedback

Because time gets out of hand in many meetings, the participants hurry apart after the meeting is over. There is therefore neither a summary of what has been achieved and what has been achieved, nor a “maneuver criticism”. The result: everyone returns to his or her place of work and quickly forgot what was discussed in the hustle and bustle of everyday work. This has to be avoided.

With a feedback loop at the end of a meeting, not only the leader of the meeting receives feedback and can draw conclusions about his performance from it. The team also receives a résumé that helps keep the topics discussed in focus.

Checklist: The most important tips for a successful meeting

For an effective meeting, both the preparation and the conduct of the meeting must be well designed and thought out. Even small things help to improve the atmosphere and create a basis for a good conversation.

The following points summarize once again which aspects are particularly important when organizing a meeting:

Organizing a meeting - these are the most important aspects

  • Good preparation
  • Reduce the number of participants
  • Hold a meeting in a morning
  • Well ventilated room
  • Plan a break from a duration of 90 minutes