How to Conduct a Productive Business Meeting [Complete Guide]

Business meetings are very important for the survival and growth of a company. A productive business meeting can be a game changer and creates a lot of impact on the whole work ecosystem.

From the display of leadership to making the organization thrive, having successful business meetings are one of the major keys for success. Statistics have shown how much importance we give to business meetings.

In fact, we give too much. In the US alone, over 25 million meetings are being held every day. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, 15% of a company’s collective time is spent in meetings. While that might still sound harmless, out of all these meetings, 67% of them are considered to be unsuccessful.

Time is the most valuable resource we have and while business meetings are crucial to planning, up to 50% of business meeting time is wasted according to a study. This could be caused by more than just one error and these errors are often the result of a the lack of preparation and focus.

Identify the Purpose of the Business Meeting

The first step in conducting a productive business meeting is to know its purpose. Is it to solve an issue? Is it to implement something new to the organization? Is it for coming up with a new product?

Moreover, you also need to consider if the meeting is even necessary. If the discussion can simply be done through email, you might not need to consider having a business meeting at all. Meetings can cost you resources and even the time of you and your employees. 

According to the Baco Survey, 59% of employees feel less engaged due to too many meetings. Less time for meetings mean employees can put more of their time for work. From a study done by Inc and Fuze, people spend up to 4 hours per week just for status update meetings.

These are some of the shocking statistics about business meetings:

  • Up to 25 million meetings are conducted each day in the US alone.
  • $37 billion dollars are wasted due to unnecessary meetings.
  • 25% to 50% of a manager’s time is spent in meetings
  • 15% of a company’s collective time is used in meetings.
  • 59% of employees feel less engaged because of too many meetings.
  • 44% of employees can’t finish their work because their time for working was used up for meetings.
  • 67% of meetings are unsuccessful. 

Most meetings are unproductive and not necessary. If you have identified the goal of your meeting and you deem it necessary, the next step is to create an agenda.

Have an Agenda

Having an agenda lets you have a smooth sailing business meeting. It entails what will be discussed and in what order. Days before the meeting, the agenda should be passed along the individuals who are involved in the meeting.

This is to ensure they know what the business meeting will be about. If everyone knows what to expect, they can make preparations. However, only invite those who are truly important for the meeting. 

Fewer people means less disagreements which leads to coming up with the conclusion faster. It also reduces your cost for the meeting. According to the Harvard Business Review, to calculate your cost for a meeting, you will need to account for these 3 factors:

  1. Length of the meeting
  2. Number of participants
  3. Estimated salary of each participant

With these 3 factors, you can determine if you can achieve your desired return on investment (ROI). They made an app called the meeting cost calculator that can easily calculate just how much a meeting would cost your company.

If there are any remote participants, it’s best to have video calls than phone calls. These are the statistics for remote participants:

  • 57% multitask on phone calls
  • 4% multitask on video calls

That’s a huge difference and can greatly impact the effectiveness and productivity of the business meeting. A study also showed that 80% of the messages we receive are from body language. 

Be sure to engage with remote participants so they remain connected to the discussion. Have everyone focused on the subject matter and avoid getting off track.

Start with Everyone Silently Reading the Memo

This was a rule shared by the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. According to him, he starts a meeting in silence having everyone read the memo. They don’t start unless everyone has finished reading the memo no matter how long it takes them.

This is a good advice to follow as it conditions everyone to focus and to truly know what the meeting is all about. There won’t be any clueless participants and everyone can already have ideas to contribute before the meeting even begins.

End with Action Items

After making conclusions, distribute action items. Having something to execute is the most important result from a meeting. It is through execution that an organization can adapt, grow and thrive. 

Successful business meetings can be met if you follow these simple rules:

  1. Know the purpose of the business meeting
  2. Create an agenda
  3. Limit the number of people involved
  4. Stay focused on the agenda
  5. Have action items

By now, you should now know how to conduct a productive business meeting. Take note of what you learned here and apply this whenever you plan on conducting your business meeting.