4 Powerful Techniques for Smarter Meetings
Go from bland to highly effective meetings with our four techniques that will make your meetings smarter.
Scheduling software, facilitation skills and more can help you lead smarter meetings at work right now.
Whether you’re in a startup, a multinational corporation, or run your own company, meetings are a big part of making any business successful. Your ability to lead meetings that are smart and efficient can go a long way.
Hold great interviews and you’ll find and attract great candidates.
Become an expert at sales calls and you’ll close more deals.
Host smart internal meetings and you’ll boost the way your team collaborates.
However, despite the clear impact of meetings done well — it’s surprising how many businesses are doing them wrong. One report found that businesses in the United States, on average, waste $37 billion a year on ineffective meetings.
Needless to say, that’s a huge loss. And frankly, it’s a missed opportunity to do truly innovative work.
After all, meetings should be about bringing people together, pulling on diverse thinking styles, and leveraging collective creativity.
So, if that isn’t how you would describe your last meeting, then we suggest you read on.
By mastering smarter meetings, you’ll stop dreading office meetings and be more productive. You’ll also provide the “secret sauce” that could boost your company’s culture (and bottom line).
Beyond the obvious advice on punctuality, preparation, and a good attitude — here are four powerful techniques to start having smarter meetings, now.
1. Don’t book it yourself
Perception is powerful.
Whether you realize it or not, your chance to make a good first impression is through the meeting request stage. It’s an early touchpoint with a candidate, prospect, or manager that can be the difference between “accept” or “decline”.
In reality, a long or outdated scheduling process can easily derail any momentum for your meeting.
Skip outdated back-and-forth scheduling emails and set a strong tone by using meeting scheduling technology. The right meeting scheduling software will relieve you of ever having to ask or answer questions like…
“When are you free to meet this week?”
“Does Thursday at 1:30 pm work for you?”
“What does your schedule look like next month?”
A good meeting scheduling tool will get you from meeting requested to meeting booked fast. Plus, it’ll save everyone involved a lot of time and energy, which is always appreciated in any workplace.
Right now, busy professionals like recruiters and sales teams are using Zoom.ai Meeting Assistant to automate the entire scheduling process quickly.
Getting the right scheduling technology is the first step on your way to smarter meetings.
2. Start with why
Starting with why may be a crucial part of leadership, but it’s also critical to the success of your meetings.
Smart meetings have a clearly defined purpose.
Do you need ideas for a sales campaign?
Are you looking to revamp your hiring process?
It’s important to ask yourself why you’re having the meeting at all. Once you have that nailed down, then communicate your “why” to your invitees.
So, how do you express your meeting’s purpose? Through the meeting agenda.
Your meeting agenda is a full-proof way to avoid confusion and keep everyone on the same page.
A smart meeting agenda ought to include a brief overview (preferably in point-form) that highlights action items and discussion points of the meeting. In some cases, providing additional resources such as links to documents or websites can also be helpful.
An effective meeting agenda will ensure your invitees have a good sense of what to expect and show up prepared.
3. Invite the right people
Okay, so you’ve drafted a solid meeting agenda. Next up: it’s time to determine who belongs in the meeting.
In the Art of Gathering, Priya Parker, master facilitator and author, writes about the importance of being selective about who you invite to your meetings.
“Faced with people who should not, in theory, be [at your gathering] but are hard to keep away, it can feel easier and more generous to go with the flow. But the thoughtful gatherer understands that inclusion can in fact be uncharitable, and exclusion generous.”
Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering
When it comes to your smart meeting, “the more the merrier” isn’t the best approach. We suggest referencing the why of your meeting to determine who can most meaningfully contribute to your meeting’s purpose.
Also, if you’re a salesperson hoping to strike a new deal, then you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the key decision-makers in your meeting. We’ll share more on that in a future blog post.
It’s also important to remember that different meeting types call for different attendees.
Looking to have an internal creative brainstorm? You can likely be more liberal with who you invite.
Want to quickly move a business strategy forward? Narrow down that invitee list.
Having the right people in the room creates better discussions, which leads to smarter meetings.
4. Be a facilitator
By now, you’ve automated your scheduling process, created a strong agenda, and invited the right people. Now, it’s time to think about the most critical part of smart meetings: your role.
Whether you’re leading a sales call, screening a candidate, or hosting an internal meeting, your role and your ability to own it confidently matters.
Think of yourself as a facilitator. Good facilitators direct conversations. They create space for good discussions, help groups stay focused, and make sure everyone understands why they’re there.
Here are some quick facilitation tips for your next meeting:
State the goal of the meeting and review the agenda at the start
Ask your attendees if this aligns with their own goals for the meeting (this is especially important in sales meetings)
Confidently interject if the meeting goes too far off-topic and remind the group of your meeting’s purpose
At the end of the meeting, recap the most important points and share the next steps
Thank everyone for their time and book a follow-up meeting if needed
Ultimately, your ability to be a good facilitator helps people feel more engaged and leaves everyone feeling like their time was put to good use.
Master these four smart meeting techniques and you’ll turn complex business challenges into conversations that fuel solutions, partnerships, and positive growth for everyone involved.