How to Have Business Meetings that Everyone Actually Wants to Attend

Anyone who has ever worked in a business or owned one, is familiar with the business meeting conundrum. On one hand, there is a vital need for face-time among employees and partners and on occasion, suppliers, vendors, and even customers to touch base, exchange ideas, and work out any problems. But the truth is that most people dread business meetings and would much prefer to avoid them if they could. Underlying the collective groan is the fact that attendees tend to view these get-togethers as a contrived, painful process as well as a waste of precious time. Instead of boosting productivity and morale, it seems business meetings are creating the opposite effect.

The business world has tried all sorts of remedies in order to make meetings more enjoyable and productive. Notable entries to this initiative include: unusual positions (such as standing), or holding meetings in an gimmicky place (how about outdoors riding on a “conference bike”?) or even including a variety of cheesy activities, such as childish group-building exercises, games, and quizzes.

But to be honest, most of these strategies just end up making the process even more painful for the vast majority of the people who are being subjected to the experience (whether or not they will admit it).

Given that we can’t just do away with all business meetings, how can we really solve this issue in a way that truly makes the participants happy? Here are five points to consider that most businesses don’t realize:

1. Only meet when necessary. With so many modes of real-time, collaborative communication available to us these days, we really don’t need to be conducting so many official meetings. If something can be effectively communicated to a group of employees or partners, etc. without having to meet, then do so. Meetings are appropriate for issues and information that is more easily or quickly communicated in person, or for things that require some kind of “human response,” such as getting reactions and feedback from employees before a major change in the business.

2. Stick to a very clear agenda. Make sure that everyone is aware of what will be discussed before the meeting. This helps to keep everyone on the same page, but it also gets participants thinking about the topics beforehand so that they show up adequately prepared for the discussion.

3. Pick a time that works for everyone. Depending on how busy your participants may be, scheduling a meeting effectively can get tricky. But, if you are following the first two tips, then it is an event that your participants can prepare their own schedules for. They may even look forward to it. Also, pay attention to the time of day as well as the day of the week that the meeting is scheduled for, and make sure this time aligns with the goals of the meeting. You shouldn’t, for example, schedule a long problem-solving meeting on a Friday afternoon. But, you could use that time for a strategy update or for an encouragement session.

4. Pick a meeting length that fits the goal. If the purpose of your meeting is really just to touch base, and there are only a handful of people attending, then 10 to 15 minutes may be enough time. Scheduling too much time will just cause everyone involved to procrastinate and get off track. On the other hand, for bigger agendas you need to make sure that there is enough time allotted for everything to get adequately discussed and for decisions to be made by the end of the meeting.

5. Only invite the people who need to be there. Collaboration is great, but only when the right people are involved. Otherwise, it can end up being a distraction. A lot of time can get wasted and morale dampened when there are people who don’t need to be there. They are distracted and bored, and can bring down the energy and attention span of everyone else.

In short, business meetings don’t have to be painful. Just don’t set them up for failure before they have even happened.

5 Keys to Increasing Productivity in Your Business

These days when the speed of life and business just keep quickening, it can seem like we are never being productive enough. There is always more to stay on top of; more to do, yet less time to do it; and often with less money and other resources at our disposal.

designing-on-a-tablet-1361061-mIronically, all this focus on productivity can end up slowing you down. Which productivity tools, techniques, and tips should you follow and how do you successfully implement them?

Though circumstances can vary from one business to another, there are nevertheless commonalities. Here are five productivity keys that can be applied to any kind of business as well as to your personal life outside of it. They are the “tricks of the trade” for productivity superstars, such as Tim Ferris and Josh Kauffman, and though they may seem simple, they can dramatically change the way you and your business functions.

1. Clearly map out your goals. It’s not enough to have some rough idea of where you are heading: I want to increase sales, improve customer service, etc. What exactly do you want to accomplish and more importantly why? Create a list of very specific goals, and list them in order of priority.

2. Break your goals down. Once you are clear about your main goals, you now need to break them down into workable chunks. Many people make the mistake of trying to bite off more than they can chew and eventually end up dropping the ball. Don’t let this happen to your business. You want to create small focus areas and then go through them one-by-one until you’ve mastered it.

3. Get the necessary resources. Make sure all the resources are in place to accomplish your goals. This includes things like equipment, materials, supplies, and even qualified workers, and it means you’re going to have to do some projections to help you anticipate what you will need to get the job done along the way.

4. Make your goals a priority. This may sound simple, but often this step is overlooked, and it can be a major pitfall. It’s not just that you need clear goals and the resources to fulfill them, but you actually have to actively commit those resources. This means setting aside the necessary time, attention, and money and doing so consistently.

5. Testing and feedback. Improving your business’ performance is not a static process. If you really want results then, you need to get feedback along the way. This will help you to stay on course and further pursue the activities and strategies that are working.

In short, if you are looking for some real increases in productivity, then make sure you are implementing the previous five steps. They may appear to be simple, but many businesses skip them, and it’s why increases in productivity can seem elusive.

 

The Secret to Getting Things Done

Have you ever looked in amazement at one of those super doers? You know who I’m talking about. Those people who seem to defy the confines of time to get a seemingly insurmountable list of things done, day after day. Have you ever looked at these people and wondered what you are doing wrong?

Even if you accept the fact that some people are by nature multi-taskers, this still doesn’t explain all the highly productive people out there who aren’t. What is it that they are doing differently?

The big secret to being exceptionally productive in your business and other areas of your life is not to try to change who you are, but to recognize how you process information, how you make decisions, and how you approach tasks in general. Once you’ve figured this out, you can then look for ways to either fill in the gaps or purposely set up some natural opposition in those areas where you tend to go astray.

With this is mind, here are several steps to consider:

Identifying the problem areas. If you really want to improve your productivity, then one of the first steps is figuring out where in your daily routine you are slowing down or getting held back. Are there certain tasks that you always seem to push off? Are there activities that you are doing that are not providing enough payback- not in the short-term, nor in the long-term? When are your least productive hours of the day? Sometimes a slow down in productivity can happen at certain times of the day or in particular venues.

Determine why things are not getting done. Once you’ve pinpointed the problem areas, try to figure out the causes behind them. Trying to fix the problems without identifying the root cause won’t get you very far. Are there tasks you just dislike doing or aren’t good at? Do you get very tired towards the afternoon? Are there too many distractions in front of you? Are you working too many hours or trying to accomplish too much in too short a time? Are there any external factors that may be affecting your productivity, such as health-related issues, money stress, or marital problems?

Getting to the right tools and techniques. There are many groups out there from time management “experts” to productivity app developers all proclaiming that they have the definitive list of tips, tools, techniques, etc to make you productive beyond your wildest dreams. But, the unavoidable truth is that some things will work, but others won’t because everyone and every situation is different. If you are in touch with who you are, where you are not being so productive and why, you can then devise methods to help alleviate the situation.

So, for example, if you tend be a bit scattered and forgetful by nature, then having a good time management app or productivity tool could be a real plus. If you find that you are more productive in the early morning or late by night, then you could try to re-arrange your schedule so you are doing some work during those peak times. If you are having a hard time being productive and motivated at work in general then you could tweak your break schedule and make sure to get some time away from work. If there are tasks that you dislike doing, you could break the tasks down into small increments, you could hire someone to do those tasks for you, or initiate some other changes to make the task a bit more fun or enjoyable… You get the point?

Get others involved. Where possible, getting others involved in your daily routine can make you a lot more productive. But here “getting involved” can mean a few different things: hiring someone to do the task for you, working alongside other people who are doing similar things, asking a co-worker or friend to help push you through the task by checking in on your progress, or even just having the emotional support and encouragement of others around you.

In short, the secret to getting things done is being in touch with yourself and the work that needs to be accomplished and being able to sift out the very unproductive tips, tools, and techniques that claim to increase your productivity, yet will only worsen it.