How many meetings have you been a part of that go way off tangent or result in people talking over one and other and hardly anything gets accomplished? Meetings are an important part of any business, but it’s critical that they are a valuable use of everyone’s time.
Understanding how to run effective meetings is a major part of successful business leadership, and communication plays a crucial role in this. Delivering better meetings is important and should be an objective of any leader because many business gatherings lack focus and fail to achieve what they were supposed to.
If you can get ideas across clearly, keep people’s attention, make effective use of body language and steer conversations in the right direction, your meetings will become much more successful and you can effectively boost overall business results.
Improving communication throughout meetings will make your meetings become more productive and you’ll become more likely to achieve your meeting objectives. Continue reading to explore five ways you can improve communication and run effective meetings!
Run Effective Meetings: The Importance of Communication
It’s no exaggeration to say that the success or failure of business meetings will hinge on the effectiveness of your communication, as well as the communication skills of the other attendees. You need to make sure you are speaking clearly and are getting your points across in a way that can be easily understood by everyone else. Another major point to understand is that communication is not one-directional. You can be a good orator, delivering good content, but if you are not a good listener, your overall ability to communicate effectively will suffer.
One of the best ways to improve your communication is to record your meetings and listen to them back. While many people dislike the experience of listening to themselves, it is the best way to pick up on what you do well and where you need to make improvements. Of course, there are also some top tips to be aware of too – so let’s explore those now.
5 Tips to Improve Communication in Meetings
1. Stick to Planned Topics as Much as Possible
A recent study of businesses in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany found that the average employee wastes nearly 13 working days every year in unproductive meetings. One of the reasons for this is because many meetings lack focus and drift away from the core aims. To prevent this, you need to plan out the meeting ahead of time and stick as closely to the planned topics as possible. In some meetings, there may be the chance to open up the conversation to cover other issues at the end, but the focus should always be on the topic at hand so that the meeting delivers a useful outcome.
The host of the meeting or an appointed attendee can have the role of guiding the talking points and drive all participants back on the topic should the conversation go astray. Have a checklist prepared to ensure that all areas have been covered during the meeting. This will save everyone time and help drive productivity within the team.
2. Enhance Communication with Technology
Although it is vital to organize your thoughts and say the right things, the actual effectiveness of your communication within meetings can potentially be enhanced by intelligent use of relevant technology. Especially in circumstances where meetings involve participants in various locations and time zones, it is essential to have devices and software that will support remote and hybrid meetings. For instance, an interactive display can help provide visual information and multimedia content for clearer communication. Supported with a digital whiteboard software, such as ViewSonic’s myViewBoard ecosystem, that is compatible with software solutions like Zoom, you can communicate to remote participants much more effectively.
Should you be having the meeting from home, it will be wise to invest in a good-quality monitor that enhances communication from afar. Some monitors feature ergonomic capabilities that allow you to stand to present even in the comforts of your own home. USB-C monitors can also streamline how you share and present content, making sure that the participants in the meeting can easily view the information quickly and easily.
3. Pay Close Attention to Your Body Language
When people think about communication, they immediately think about speech or written communication. However, a significant part of the way we communicate with other people occurs through body language. Therefore, to communicate better in meetings, you need to pay close attention to yours. As stated in an article from Forbes on body language in leadership, people make snap judgments based on your body language. Before a meeting, you need to consciously think about how you sit or stand. Avoid closed body language, such as crossed arms, and try to make plenty of eye contact with other people in the meeting, and adopt a good posture.
4. Ask Questions to Engage Others in the Conversation
Although it may not always be possible or appropriate, meetings tend to work better when the attendees are involved in a conversation rather than simply listening to a long speech. However, some of those attending the meeting may be reluctant to interject or to volunteer points themselves, which is why questions are so important. Ideally, you should try to make intelligent use of questions to push the conversation forward and to get specific ideas from people. Questions can be aimed at the group, with attendees being given a chance to volunteer an answer, or aimed at individuals, which can be a good way to keep people engaged.
5. Keep Unnecessary Distractions to a Minimum
Lastly, an essential tip to improving the quality of communication in meetings is to keep unnecessary distractions to an absolute minimum. On a basic level, you need to ensure the room is soundproofed or located far enough away from unwanted background noise, but there is also a need to eliminate distractions inside the room too. For example, Inc. Magazine noted that 80% of workers understand mobile phones can be a distraction in meetings — however, about 50% still use them anyway. You can politely remind all meeting attendees to keep their mobile phones or laptops away so that they can pay attention to the messages conveyed during the meeting.
Additionally, it’s important to restrict the number of devices in the meeting to those that are needed. If attendees do not require laptops to contribute to the meeting, avoid having them on desks. Paper handouts may be needed, but you need to avoid situations where people are caught between listening to the discussion and reading the content.
Summing It All Up
Communication is a critical component of understanding how to run effective meetings, and learning to communicate better can easily be the difference between an unproductive meeting that wastes everybody’s time and a good one that delivers on the original objectives. What you say must have a purpose, and you need to stay on topic. However, you must remember that communication does not only go one way, and it is also not only about what you say. Bring others into the discussion and pay attention to your body language. Make effective use of technology and eradicate unnecessary distractions.
Recording meetings and listening to them back is a great way to pick up on areas of strength and areas of weakness. As you work to improve your communication, the overall quality of your business meetings will inevitably improve too!