In the business world, meetings between colleagues are pretty common. You can meet for any number of reasons - from a simple catch-up to building your quarterly financial plan, for example. In fact, business meetings are so commonplace that the average employee in the United States attends approximately 8 meetings a week. That amounts to a staggering 55 million meetings held each week across the country!
With so many meetings taking place, it’s inevitable that they’re not all totally efficient or, let’s face it, useful. We’ve all come out of at least one meeting and thought “well... that could have been an email”.
So, to make sure you’re running the most effective meetings you can, we’ve put together a short list of the most common types of business meetings that you’re likely to encounter as well as a few tips to make them really worthwhile.
Let’s dive in!
The 5 most common types of business meetings
Arguably, no two meetings are the same. They all vary depending on the meeting participants, the goals you set, when they take place, and more. However, there are 5 overarching “concepts” for business meetings that take place most frequently.
Type 1: brainstorming sessions
Possibly the most exciting meetings, brainstorming sessions are all about getting creative with the team. Whether you’re looking for ways to solve a problem or coming up with new ideas for a strategy, product, or campaign, brainstorming sessions really help people think outside the box by bouncing ideas off each other.
And sure, these meetings can take place online through videoconferencing tools like Zoom. However, a recent study by Nature has suggested that virtual meetings can actually limit creative ideas by blocking our ability to read each other’s natural queues and take inspiration from all around us. That’s why having a brainstorming session in person can help you generate more ideas and come up with more innovative solutions to a problem!
Want to learn more about how meeting in real life can help boost productivity and creativity? Check out this video of our COO Huw Slater and CPO Sally Sourbron talking about just that at SaaStr 2022!
Type 2: status meetings
We all know that business communications can sometimes be tricky. From a key email ending up in spam to missing a Slack message, or what have you, it can be pretty easy to fall behind on what your colleagues are doing.
That’s why regularly scheduled status update meetings are so important! They give team members the opportunity to share what they’re working on, align objectives, and even come out with a few action items!
For these meetings to be the most effective, always make sure you have a meeting agenda that makes time for each team member to share. That way, you make sure that everyone has a chance to speak and that your quieter colleagues don’t get overlooked.
Sticking to your agenda items also ensures that you cover everything you had planned in your allotted timeframe. It also gives you the opportunity to cancel the meeting if there aren’t any key talking points that time round.
Type 3: one-to-one meetings
As the name suggests, these are meetings where you get together with just one person. They’re an opportunity for two people to meet for a specific purpose. For example, you might have a weekly one-to-one meeting with your manager where you recap what you’ve been working on the last week; or have a peer review session.
You might also meet a colleague you’re working on a project with, or simply meet with someone who can help you get unstuck!
These meetings have a myriad of benefits. They’re great for actually advancing on a piece of work together with another person, they can be wonderful ways of getting to know a colleague on a more personal level, and can really help you make headway where you might previously have been a little lost.
It can, however, also be very easy to go off-topic in these meetings, particularly where the person you’re chatting to is a friend!
Type 4: problem-solving meetings
Problem-solving meetings often require a great deal of teamwork to come up with solutions to a particular challenge. These are intensely purpose-driven meetings where a clear outcome is needed.
Depending on the nature of your business and what department you’re in, the problems and solutions you discuss in such meetings will, of course, vary. However, these types of meetings will always have one thing in common - the need to come up with a solution.
Different problems might require more than one problem-solving meeting. That’s why it’s so important for you to follow up on the solutions you and your team came up with. Check in to see how they’re going, and if need be, organize another meeting to evaluate whether further action needs to be taken.
Type 5: Decision-making meetings
Typically focused on business leaders, when we refer to decision-making meetings we tend to mean meetings where key company decisions are made. Top-level decisions are often discussed - a board meeting is a great example of the kind of professional gathering where major decisions are made.
However, you can also have decision-making meetings at any level - deciding on a strategy for the year with your team would certainly fall into this category.
It’s really important for these meetings to be clearly structured and have an apparent objective from the beginning to the end of the meeting. Preparing an agenda ahead of time is really useful to ensure that you cover all the points needed in the time you have.
Our top tips for running a truly successful business meeting
1. Have a clear purpose
The most surefire way of avoiding the pitfalls of setting meetings that could have been emails is to be organized. Making the purpose of the meeting known to all attendants in advance is key - it gives everyone time to reflect on what’s going to be discussed and prepare anything if needed.
Running purpose-led meetings is the best way to add value to these professional interactions.
2. Invite the right people
Avoid the “sure, Ben might know about this stuff, add him to the call” attitude. Think about whether “Ben” really needs to be in the meeting - is he going to be a facilitator of conversation or just a silent participant? Is “Ben” going to get anything out of it? Will he contribute anything valuable?
More isn’t always better, so consider your list of attendees carefully before sending out a meeting request to half your department.
3. Take notes during the meeting (so you don’t forget anything)
We can’t expect everyone to be a notetaker, but taking note of key discussion points is the best way to remember the details. It’s always good to take your own notes, however, some teams and meetings might benefit from designating one of the attendees to write the “meeting minutes”.
This is particularly useful in meetings where lots of ideas are thrown about, like a creative strategy session or an ideation workshop for a new product.
4. Don’t interrupt if someone’s speaking
This one might be a little obvious but it still needs to be said! Let people finish their thoughts during a meeting before stepping in to offer yours. Manners matter, no matter what kind of meeting you’re in.
Whether it’s a team-building event or a decision-making meeting, just make sure you’re always respectful of others and their time.
5. Take time into account and don’t waste it
You always need to be weary of time from the moment your meeting starts. It can be very easy to go off on a tangent and waste valuable meeting time talking about something that isn’t really that important.
Another pitfall can be getting stuck on one particular topic and neglecting to cover everything else you had in mind before running out of time. Always keep your eye on the clock!
6. Recap and set actionable goals at the end
Make sure that when your meeting is over, everyone is clear about what they’re supposed to do. Taking 5 minutes at the end of the call to summarise what was discussed and confirm action items is really important as it guarantees that everyone will be on the same page at the end.
Confusion can easily arise, particularly where multiple action points were discussed. This short recap is a good way to iron out any wrinkles and give people time to ask questions.
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