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How to Optimize Business Outcomes with Better Meetings
For almost any business, meetings are an essential part of the daily grind, especially during today’s times where the hybrid workplace is so prevalent. Meetings between colleagues, whether remote or in-person, help to facilitate collaboration and brainstorming for projects, goals, and even onboarding in the workplace and can also serve as the daily means of communication. However, sometimes it’s actual less productive to host a meeting – there’s a big difference between meetings worth having and those that add little to no value.
In order to optimize business outcomes, organizations need to focus on and prioritize the types of meetings that deliver real value. So, which meetings are worth having? Keep reading for a deep dive into the five best meeting types to focus on.
Optimize Business Outcomes with Better Meetings: Meeting Size
Before we dive into the five meeting types organizations should focus on, it’s worth taking the time to consider different meeting sizes, as well as methods for carrying them out. According to the Harvard Business Review, most business meetings can be separated into three main size categories, which can be broadly described as follows:
Assembly – Featuring up to 100 people or more, an assembly will typically consist of a small number of chosen speakers, with most participants simply listening to what is said.
Council – Featuring up to around 50 people, participants in a council size meeting will typically listen to main speakers but potentially make their own contributions through questions or comments.
Committee – The most common type, with a group, project team, or board of somewhere in the region of 10 people. All participants make contributions and ideally will do so on a leveled playing field.
It’s also worth noting that one-to-one and small daily huddles can also play a valuable role in certain situations.
Additionally, there are essentially two basic ways to conduct meetings today. The first is the traditional in-person meeting, where all of those taking part gather in the same physical space. However, modern technology also allows for another approach, which is remote, carried out using video conferencing technology like Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Five Meeting Types to Prioritize
The main thing to focus on when trying to create meetings worth having is the type of meeting you arrange. There are certain meeting types, such as progress report-style meetings, which should be kept to an absolute minimum in most circumstances, as they can end up wasting time and reducing productivity. In many cases, these meetings could be just as easily replaced by a progress report sent via email.
By contrast, certain meeting types can be extremely valuable, helping businesses to innovate, learn valuable lessons, or improve operations. In the sections below, we offer information about five of the most important meeting types to focus on, complete with explanations for why they are so useful or important.
1. Kick-Off / Launch Meetings
The purpose of a kick-off or launch meeting is to mark the start of a new project or initiative or to kickstart a new plan of action. This can be especially important for projects where many people are needed to carry out the work, with each of them requiring key details and background information.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that not all projects or initiatives require a kick-off meeting. Kick-off or launch meetings are often designed to provide critical information, but they should also aim to build enthusiasm for the work that lies ahead and explain why the project is needed. These types should be reserved for instances where clarity is needed before work can be carried out, where there is an obvious need to obtain buy-in from the team who will be carrying out the work, and when you need to establish the long-term goals of the initiative so that everyone pulls in the same direction.
2. Innovation or Idea-Sharing
All businesses need good ideas, and many are reliant on innovation to remain competitive. While inspiration can strike at any time and ideas can be shared in a huge number of ways, there can be real value in bringing a team together to be creative, bounce ideas off of one another, or come up with a new product or service together. Ideas can be formulated in several ways, with brainstorming being one popular example. A growing number of businesses are also embracing the concept of design thinking, where people are encouraged to think outside the box, share ideas without judgment, develop working prototypes, test them, and make changes based on the results.
Regardless of the exact approach adopted for idea generation, innovation meetings can be crucial for avoiding stagnation. These discussions can solve problems or form the basis for entirely new approaches and offerings. People should feel free to share their thoughts, but leadership will be needed to identify the best ideas.
3. Decision-Making Meetings
There will be crucial times throughout your business operations where decisions need to be made, and a decision-making meeting can be one of the best ways to agree on a planned course of action or a solution to a problem. The decisions could be anything from financial goals, to deciding on a new marketing strategy, to agreeing on a new logo. These meetings are about arriving at a formal agreement with regards to whatever decision needs to be made. They will typically include leaders or senior staff, but they may sometimes be broader and involve whole teams.
To get the most from a meeting of this kind, there needs to be a clear structure and a focus on arriving at a decision. First, the situation needs to be sufficiently explained. Next, the available options need to be presented, and a discussion needs to be had about the pros and cons of each option. This will allow decision-makers to voice their own opinions and hear the opinions of others while also understanding why the final decision was eventually taken.
4. Analysis or Follow-Up Meetings
Another meeting type that can be extremely useful for businesses involves analysis or follow-up after a project has been completed. A meeting of this kind may involve a core presentation, where key findings are discussed, but there could also be more of a committee approach, where people can make their own contributions. The crucial reason why analysis or follow-up meetings are so valuable is that they provide an opportunity to draw a line under the project, giving the project team an element of closure. The lessons learned can then be carried forward into new projects, and the key contributors can be thanked for their efforts too.
In cases where a project failed or did not live up to expectations, there may be a need for a post-mortem of sorts, where the meeting analyzes what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what lessons need to be learned. In cases where a project went well, the successes need to be identified, and the reasons for that success need to be understood.
5. Team-Building or Onboarding
Finally, team building and onboarding meetings can also be essential for the successful management of a business. With these meeting types, there can be a greater amount of experimentation involved. For example, why limit your meeting to the usual boardroom setting when you could go out for a meal or meet in a more unusual location? The focus of these meetings should be facilitating communication between staff and boosting team morale.
In the case of team building, the idea is usually to allow team members to get to know each other better and develop the kind of healthy working relationship that can be so important in delivering high-quality work. On the other hand, onboarding meetings are focused on helping new recruits get to know their new colleagues and bed-in with the company culture. If a team of new hires is all starting at the same time, an onboarding meeting may also place a strong emphasis on training and induction-type activities.
Summing It All Up
Meetings are a vital part of work-life in many businesses, but it is important to separate the meetings worth having from the meetings that waste time, hinder productivity, and cause unnecessary disruption. By focusing on the five meeting types outlined above, you can set your business and your teams to have stronger meetings and optimize business outcomes.