By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

The first rule of thumb is that meetings should only be held when it is the best way to achieve a goal. If the only purpose of a meeting is to give people an update or status report, then Email may be the best communication method. If the purpose is to get feedback and/or build consensus, a meeting format may be the best communication tool.

Many of us will need to hold periodic meetings with a group. We may hold a meeting with employees, suppliers, or with other organizations’ staff with whom you may want to partner. For whatever reason, you have for holding and conducting a meeting there are six elements. If followed, you can be assured of a successful meeting outcome.

  1. Firm time constraints – Set the beginning and ending times and stick to it.
  2. Prepare an agenda and if possible, give out in advance.
  3. At the outset of the meeting, define the purpose of the meeting. In other words, define the meeting objective.
  4. As meeting leader control the meeting with a firm, but polite attitude. You may need to cut off an extraneous discussion that doesn’t align with the objective you established.
  5. For most meetings, you will want to have notes taken and distribute a summary (minutes) to the participants.
  6. Most important, what are the follow-up actions that will be taken subsequent to the meeting and who is accepting follow-up responsibilities.

Sharpening your “conducting meetings” skill set will help you to more effectively communicate and lead your business. Getting meeting participant feedback immediately after the meeting is the best way to improve your results.
Here’s a simple follow-up process by asking the following questions:

  1. Did we achieve the meeting objectives? If not, why not? What can we do to improve the next meeting?
  2. What are the things we did that we should not do at the next meeting?
  3. What can I do, as meeting leader to improve the next meeting?
  4. What can you do, the participants, to improve the next meeting?

Keep in mind that meetings are an important part of a leader’s toolbox and are learned skills that generally, need to be improved for the business to achieve the best results possible.

SCORE can help you in developing all the skill sets you will need (at no cost to you) to start a business or lead your existing business. Get in touch with a SCORE mentor by calling 602 745-7250 and jump start your business today.

George ObstGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE Mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start- ups, buying, financing, and selling businesses.