Successful businesses are the result of successful meetings. During meetings, business owners address their needs, set new policies and guide employee behavior. Other meetings forge alliances between different businesses or secure funding for projects. In order to create a successful business, entrepreneurs must become skilled facilitators so that they can run meetings appropriately and achieve goals.
Plan Meetings In Advance
Every good facilitator is first and foremost a good planner. Planning meetings in advance can ensure everything runs smoothly. Some things you should decide before a meeting include:
- The meeting’s purpose. Figure out exactly what you hope to accomplish via the meeting. It’s important to establish this before anything else so that your purpose can inform the rest of your planning.
- Who needs to attend. A meeting where you discuss new sources of capital is very different than one where you discuss how to resolve employee conflicts. Decide who to invite based on your meeting’s purpose; only invite people who really need to be there so you don’t interrupt people’s work schedule unnecessarily.
- When and where to hold the meeting. Make the meeting as convenient as possible for your participants by meeting near their workplace at an hour that fits the majority of people’s schedules. You may want to include food in your meeting budget to entice people to come, especially if it’s near a lunch or dinner hour.
- How to resolve potential problems. It’s vital to ensure your participants work well together. Think about potential conflicts and how to resolve them before the meeting begins.
Build Ground Rules Into Your Agenda
Meeting facilitators need to design meeting structures to ensure the meeting runs smoothly. One of the best ways to do this is to build some ground rules into meeting agendas.
When it comes to generating rules, remember that simpler is better. You don’t want to come across as a parent who is trying to reign in a group of rebellious teenagers; you just want a few simple rules to keep things from getting out of control. Create rules for how participants may request to speak, how votes are conducted and what type of behavior is not permitted.
You also need to decide how to present rules. Some facilitators prefer to state all the rules at the beginning of the meeting, while others may want to mention certain rules (such as the rules for voting) only when they are relevant. In general, it’s best to state basic rules at the outset so everyone knows what to expect, but it’s your call as the facilitator.
Keep the Meeting On Track
In addition to planning meetings, it’s the facilitator’s job to make sure participants stay focused. It’s helpful to state the meeting’s purpose at the beginning of the meeting. If participants begin talking about something that is not related to the meeting’s purpose, you can then bring their focus back to where it belongs by gently reminding them of the meeting’s purpose.