Decide if a meeting is necessary
A lot of organisations hold way too many meetings, which are not absolutely necessary. Do not hold a meeting just for the sake of holding it. Think over the situation at hand clearly, and determine if a meeting is necessary. Sometimes, certain situations can be tackled by other means such as a phone call or an e-mail instead of a meeting.
Have an agenda
It is imperative to have a well-thought-out agenda for your meeting. Have a basic outline of the major things that you want to discuss during the meeting, as well as sub-points or ideas within each such category. This will ensure that you stay on track and discuss what is important at the meeting.
Keep track of time
Keep track of time during the meeting. Fix a start time and end time for the meeting, and try to stick to it as much as possible. This will help you avoid unnecessary discussions and ensure that routine productivity is not affected.
Invite only necessary people
Invite only those colleagues to the meeting whose presence is strictly required. Do not create a crowd at the meeting venue.
Stick to the point
It is crucial to stick to the point (read agenda) during the meeting. Do not veer off into lengthy, unnecessary discussions, but discuss what you originally set out to discuss.
Taking notes of the points discussed, the issues raised, and the solutions generated during a meeting is a great idea. This will help you in generating an effective plan to tackle the issues for which the meeting was held.
Notes or minutes are also a wonderful way of remembering the additional points raised (other than the agenda) during the meeting, which warrant further discussion. You might want to schedule another meeting to discuss these additional points.
Create a conclusive summary
End the meeting with a summary of all that was discussed and the points that need to be further discussed. Reiterate the actions that need to be taken by different people in the organisation with regard to the discussion. This will help reinstate new goals and activities discussed in the meeting, in the minds of the employees.
Ensure that everyone contributes
A meeting can be effective only if everyone present shares their views on the topics at hand, the issues that they are facing, and their ideas on how they can be tackled. Hence, it is important that you ensure that each employee present at the meeting contributes to the discussion.
Fix a chairperson
It is important to determine in advance as to who will chair the meeting, even though it might sound very formal. The chairperson will ensure that all the points on the agenda are discussed, everyone is on track, specific action plans are determined and delegated as required, and the meeting closes on time.
Following up is a very effective step in deriving the most out of your business meetings. Send out the minutes of the meeting in an e-mail to the people present and to everyone else concerned, even if they were not present. Reiterate the activities that each person will be undertaking, as well as the time frame within which they should be achieved