How to Run a Meeting

how to run a meetingNearly four hours per work week are spent in meetings and nearly half of U.S workers say that meetings are the top time-waster in the office. Of course, you may not be able to stop having meetings completely in your organization, but if your colleagues view those four hours as time that’s better spent elsewhere, then there’s room for improvement. If you need to have a meeting, then here are a few tips to running an efficient and productive meeting, whether it’s in person or virtual.

Have a Goal (or Several Goals)

For any meeting, have at least one goal that needs to be accomplished before the meeting ends. You, and everyone else attending, needs to know why this meeting is happening and what you hope to get done. This way, those attending can figure out what needs to be done make this goal a reality. If you’re having a short-term planning meeting, as an example, then the goal would be to come up with those plans and a few action steps for those plans. Anything that doesn’t have to do with these plans and action steps doesn’t need to be discussed. Having a goal also helps attendees do any necessary prep work prior to the meeting. This way, time isn’t wasted in the meeting for people to come up with ideas, to scramble for paperwork and information, or for people to catch up with what they need to know in order to contribute to the conversation.

Prepare Beforehand to Address the Little Things

This one goes for in-person meetings as well as virtual and phone meetings, as these little things can suck up a lot of time. For example, if you’re renting a meeting space, it’s best to check the room prior to the meeting to ensure that the room temperature will be pleasant for everyone. It seems small, but the room temperature becomes a huge time suck if people are uncomfortable, and then someone needs to take the time to figure out how to change it and what temperature would be best for everyone. For virtual and phone meetings, these little things would include making sure the technology works, eliminating distractions, and gathering your refreshments before the meeting starts. A meeting isn’t going to be productive or efficient if people are uncomfortable or if there are interruptions that ruin the flow of getting work done.

Include Everyone to Get Things Back on Track

Remember that goal? It’s natural for conversation to go on a tangent, or for someone to take over the meeting with an issue that’s not on the agenda. Those things happen. To get things back on track, keep the goal in mind and include everyone at the meeting. Instead of stopping the tangent or the rant directly:

“This isn’t on the agenda. We need to get back on track.”

Use an approach that’s more inclusive, such as:

“I see that this issue is very important to you. If everyone here agrees, perhaps we can save it for the end of the meeting or make it our top priority at our next meeting.”

The second approach sends the message that you’ve heard the other person, or that you’ve acknowledge that those issues that aren’t on the agenda are important. With this approach, you won’t waste time on topics besides the goal, but time can be dedicated to those other issues if everyone agrees.

Running a meeting is a necessary skill for any leader in any business. From time to time, meetings need to happen. Ensuring that the time is spent wisely and isn’t viewed as a waste by those who are attending is where the skill and tact come in.

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virtual meeting
Videoconferencing in a virtual office a cost-friendly way to hold a virtual meeting.

With the Internet, is much more possible than ever before to have an international business. This could mean having customers all over the world, or having employees and/or contractors based in several countries. With the stretch of time zones and distances, it’s important to keep in contact and to find a way to communicate. Sometimes, email isn’t always best, as its still subject to those time zones (if you send an email while your colleague is sleeping, they certainly won’t read it until the next morning). However, with the Internet, it’s possible to bridge those gaps with a virtual meeting.

A virtual meeting is essentially a conference call, something that could be done with Skype, Google Hangouts, or a similar service. Sure, email or even a phone call or an online chat could get the job done, but if more people need to be involved in the conversation, those options can make the process tricky. This is where a virtual meeting, and a virtual office, can come in.

Why Virtual Meetings?

Meetings aren’t the funnest part of the job or the workplace, but sometimes they are more efficient in getting a few things done, compared with communicating with everyone individually when they have the time to do so. There’s too much room for information changing from conversation to conversation, or for a misunderstanding to happen. At least with a meeting, questions can be answered at once, and if information changes, everyone would know about it at the same time.

Besides making it easier to communicate with multiple people at once, virtual meetings also save on time and on travel costs. All you would have to pay for is virtual office time, versus coordinating transportation so everyone can meet in one place, or just getting everyone into closer time zones so no one has to meet at 3 a.m. A virtual meeting also allows for the meeting to happen when everyone is available, and not necessarily when everyone is in the right time zone or finally arrives at the meeting location. If someone wanted/needed, they could join the meeting from the airport or from a vehicle, although it may not be ideal. However, the meeting wouldn’t be held up for wait for that person to arrive or to get to an ideal location.

How Virtual Meetings and Virtual Offices Go Together

Let’s face it, videoconferencing technology can be expensive, and not every business has the room or the money to have their own videoconferencing room or equipment. This is where a virtual office could come in. Instead of dealing with the cheaper, although less convenient, ways of handling a virtual meeting or in communicating with multiple people at once, a virtual meeting in a virtual office can make everything easier. Everything is there, and it can only be used and paid for when you actually need it. The virtual office location can also ensure that the meeting is as productive and professional as possible, which is crucial if your business has employees working from home, and/or working from home all over the world.

With the Internet and all kinds of other new technology, virtual meetings are becoming more commonplace and more necessary than ever to conduct businesses. Services such as meeting spaces and virtual offices are arriving to make conducting business over the Internet and across international borders easier. As virtual meetings become an everyday part of business, so will virtual offices. If you are already conducting virtual meetings, or think that a virtual meeting will make it easier to run your business, then consider a virtual office services to facilitate those meetings and those needs.