Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 6 Secrets to High Performance Meetings

PART 1: What We Do to Make Ours the Best. Meetings. Ever.
Oh …the dreaded business meeting—a breeding ground for yawning executives, note-jotting interns and lukewarm coffee.  When did company meetings become so lackluster?  Why have meetings turned from team pow-wows to snooze fests?  And most importantly, will we ever get out of the rut of dealing with the mind-numbing, monotonous Powerpoint? 
Imagine a business meeting that, for once, does exactly what it’s supposed to do:  everyone’s productivity is boosted, there are more exchanges of ideas, the coffee is piping hot.  Sound too good to be true?
Well, it’s possible.  We have 6 secrets that will make your meeting one that you can actually classify as “high performance.”  It’s time to amp up those weekly meetings, entrepreneurs.

The bizperc conference room has SMART Board technology, web
conferencing capabilities and the perfect setting for a business meeting.

1.      Ever heard of an agenda?
We know you like to fly by the seat of your pants—it’s exciting and it’s quite often “how you do business.”  And although this “take whatever comes at me” mentality may work for you in the startup world, it may not work so well during a high performance meeting.  You need to prepare an agenda before the meeting begins and to stay on track throughout the meeting. 
What we do at TBP…At Think Big Partners, everybody comes prepared to present their own 5-minute portion of the meeting.  This clears the air for any questions that people have about roles and responsibilities and it makes for an effective use of meeting time.
2.      The importance of a table
Believe it or not, a meeting can go from a low quality snooze-fest to a high performance pow-wow with one simple addition: a table.  When business meetings are conducted inside a professional-looking conference room (as opposed to the kitchen, the boss’s office, or around the water cooler), attendees will understand that you mean business and that it’s time to get down to it.
What we do at TBP…During our Think Big Partners meetings, we meet in our rentable, high-tech conference room located on our 4th floor of bizperc.  Not only does it provide a stimulating environment for the development of ideas, but it provides all of the necessary technologies to produce a great meeting.
3.      Communication is key
High performance meetings happen when emails, Post-It notes, and phone calls simply don’t do the trick.  They allow a time and a place for everybody to come together and share thoughts, ideas, tasks and questions.  High performance meetings can incorporate other means of communication other than just face-to-face.  For example, video chat (by using Skype or the like), web conferencing, customized intranet, and mics can be used.
What we do at TBP…Think Big Partners has implemented a once-a-week company meeting every Monday afternoon.  The open-format meeting takes place in our high-tech conference room in case we need to use our web conferencing capabilities or other technologies.
4.      Get techno
In a world that thrives on technology, we believe that your meetings should, too.  After all, if it’s going to be high performance, it might as well be high tech too.  Utilize SMART Boards, Powerpoints (as long as they kick butt) and Wikis to enhance your business meetings and amp up participation.
What we do at TBP…We are raving fans of our SMART Board technology and use it at almost every meeting.  SMART Boards allow for a meeting leader to write ideas, thoughts and plans on a white board, and then print it out for the group at the end of the meeting.  It saves a lot of time and a lot of hand cramping. 
5.      Accountability
During a meeting, actions need to be delegated.  Do not adjourn the meeting without setting important accountability standards.  Assign different responsibilities to each person with estimated completion dates.  Good ideas will only materialize into results when they are a part of an action plan.
What we do at TBP…Other than jotting down notes during each meeting, the TBP team also utilizes Zoho, an online software that delegates who does what job, its due date, and the status of each important task.  It helps keep everybody on the same page.
6.      Keep an eye (or two) on the clock
Entrepreneurs are busy people.  High performance meetings do not need to take hours and hours out of the workday.  Budget your time during meetings.
What we do at TBP…One of our co-founders is a stickler for this secret!  He takes his watch off during the meeting and places it in front of him so he can keep an eye on the clock at all times.  Additionally, we only delegate a certain amount of time for each item.  This way, we are much more productive and the decision-making process becomes a lot easier.
See?  I told you so.  It’s not that difficult to put together a high performance meeting sans the snoring employees in the back.  By implementing the right tools, attitude, and environment, your meeting can turn from a snooze-fest to a productive pow-wow in no time.  Take it from us, we do it all the time!

Stay tuned tomorrow.  I'm going to clue you in on another aspect of meetings that may leave your audience snoring even more: presentations.  For advice on how to avoid snores, yawns and blank stares, tune into tomorrow's post!

Written by Allison Way.  Allison is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners, Kansas City's mentorship-based business incubator and startup accelerator.  To read more of Allison's work, check out the Kansas City Entrepreneurship Examiner as well as her articles on Helium, BrooWaha, eZine and Newsvine.

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