10 Ways to Improve Your
Performance in Business Meetings

See also: Mindful Meetings

Approximately 55 million meetings are held in the United States per week. However, not all of these meetings are productive. In fact, 71 percent of meetings are considered inefficient and unproductive. That’s a pretty big number, right?

Because of this, all businesses should assess the way they organize, handle, and conduct meetings. Are your meetings achieving your goals and objectives? Are they moving your business forward? Or, are they simply an inconvenience?

Close up of a casual meeting.

Below, we will take a look at 10 different ways that you can enhance performance in business meetings:

1. Hand over a professional business card

There is only one place to begin, and this is with a business card for startups. Business cards are important because they show you are serious and professional about your business.

If someone asks you for a business card and you cannot provide them with one, you will look unprepared to do business. This comes across as amateurish, which is the last thing you want. 

A good business card will get shown to others and shared between colleagues and contacts, which is why it is vital to make sure you always have one to hand. 

Business cards.

2. Set an agenda or meeting plan

Did you know that you can reduce meeting time by as much as 80 percent by having a detailed agenda?

A lot of meetings are unproductive because they end up going off-topic. However, with a clear purpose, you can ensure that everything remains on track.

This is why it is vital to list the topics you want to discuss during the meeting, allotting a specific duration for every subject. Send this to the attendees beforehand.

3. Invite the right people to the meeting

You may be tempted to invite anyone and everyone to the meeting you are hosting. However, this can often be unnecessary. You can end up draining your own time, as well as the time and energy of others.

If you are not sure whether someone should be attending the meeting or not, think about sending them an email or giving them a quick call to ask them if they would like to be included or whether they think it is necessary.

Another way that you can go about this is using the optional attendees function on some of the calendar tools available today.

4. Set the right atmosphere and tone

For any business leader or manager, it is vital to set the right tone for the meeting. You determine how you want your business meetings to be. They can be informal or formal. It all depends on who is in attendance and what you are going to be discussing.

No matter what sort of tone you want to set, make sure there is an atmosphere of mutual respect. All participants should feel like they can express their ideas and views freely, and when they do so, it is vital that you actively listen to them.

Often, meetings can be a tedious and formal affair. So, do not be afraid to change the atmosphere if you feel it is appropriate and needed. You could host the meeting somewhere different or even have a themed meeting to lighten the mood a bit.

5. Make sure the meeting starts and ends on time

Another important piece of advice is to take the meeting timeline seriously. Employees don’t typically love meetings. If you do not start the meeting on time or it goes way over schedule, it can make them resent them even more.

Your employees’ time is precious, so it can certainly help to put extra effort in to start and end the meeting on time.

If any of your attendees do not show up to the meeting on time, don’t hold the meeting. Continue with your schedule. This way, it helps to promote sincerity and punctuality in the workplace.

You may also want to think about recording meetings so that people can go back over them if they have not been able to attend for any reason.

Business meeting.

6. Don’t overlook the importance of preparation

Preparation is the key to any successful meeting. Before the meeting begins, it is imperative that all participants receive your agenda.

In the agenda, you should include the following:

  • A list of all of the topics that are going to be covered during the meeting
  • Any background information that participants must know about the subject
  • The time and location of the meeting
  • Who is going to address every topic
  • A list of people who are going to be attending the meeting
  • A brief description of the objectives for the meeting

Not only does this ensure that you are prepared for the meeting, but it makes sure that everyone else is prepared.

This will ensure that your meetings are much more efficient. The meeting will flow effectively and less time will be wasted.

7. Consider a stand-up meeting

If you have never tried a stand-up meeting before, this is something that we highly recommend.

A lot of teams regularly hold stand-up meetings because employees are more collaborative and engaged during them. They also feel less territorial.

Plus, when you are on your feet during a meeting, it creates a sense of urgency. No one wants to hang about! When no one has a place to sit, they are much more likely to cover topics in an efficient and effective manner.

This is something that was discussed in a management book called Hard Facts by Professor Bob Sutton. He assessed groups holding seated meetings against groups holding stand-up meetings. He noted that in the latter group, decisions were made at a rate that was 34 percent quicker than the seated meetings.

While the quality of the decisions was the same, the efficiency was clearer much better during a stand-up meeting. So, although stand-up meetings may not sound very practical, they certainly have their place and are worth considering.

8. Leave room for some creativity

The knowledge and experience of your employees is a valuable resource. A source that is far too vital to note be tapped into.

Constructive and short meetings are ideal, but this is not the case when idea generation and discussion are stripped down. A successful meeting should result in energy and creativity. This happens when people do not passively attend but instead actively participate.

Often, we get too bogged down with idea generation that we do not follow through with the ideas - this is the important part.

Consider looking for different ways to promote active listening and participation during meetings. Some businesses even promote coloring as a way to encourage active listening. Think outside of the box until you find something that truly works.

9. Leave multitasking at the door

Multitasking is a testament to the connected, modern lives that we all lead today. However, it is starting to take its toll.

One study has shown that multitasking is costing the worldwide economy an approximate $450 billion per year. It is also increasing stress and making us less effective.

Therefore, it is important to make sure that you prevent multitasking from happening during your meetings.

There are a number of different ways you can do this. We have already mentioned the importance of providing an agenda. However, we would advise that this agenda is timed. This discourages working on issues the group is not prepared to address, as well as discouraging sidebar conversations.

You should also assign roles for the meeting. Who is going to take notes? Who will take minutes? Who is going to facilitate the meeting? When every individual has a specific role, the meeting will be more productive and focused.

Another suggestion that we have is to have a computer/phone parking lot and encourage team members to use it. It is estimated that workers who use computers and smartphones are distracted after every 10 minutes on average. Unless the computer is absolutely critical for the meeting, it should be turned off.

10. Follow up on your meetings

Last but not least, following up on your meetings should become a professional habit. It is also imperative in terms of the context of the meeting.

It is quite common for team members and individuals to come away from the same meeting with a very different point of view. 

To make sure that everyone is on the same page, you should send out meeting notes on the day of the meeting, as well as documenting any responsibilities given, tasks delegated, and deadlines assigned.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

Final words on improving your performance in business meetings

So there you have it: ten different ways that you can enhance performance in business meetings. From making sure that you have an agenda to handing over a professional business card, follow the tips mentioned above and we are sure that your meetings will be much more effective going forward.

About the Author

Kerry Harrison is an experienced and passionate freelance writer with a First Class Hons Degree in Multimedia Journalism BA. She enjoys crafting content to help businesses grow.