Without question, business meetings play a fundamental role in the day-to-day running of organizations. For instance, they provide brainstorming avenues where business goals and objectives can be discussed to enable organisational growth.
Therefore, a project manager or company owner must understand what they entail to enable value creation. Here, we demystify the various types of business meetings and conduct them to realise maximum benefit.
Let’s dig right in:
Types of Business Meetnings
1. Formal meetings
As the name suggests, this type of meeting is based on an organisation’s standing orders, constitution, rules or articles of association.
Basically, a specified threshold must be met for such meetings to happen, for example, the need for a minimum number of persons to legitimise a sitting. Usually, formal records of such meetings are kept and referred upon on subsequent business meetings.
As a chairperson, you can do the following to ensure their success:
- Lead the discussion from one point to the next.
- Maintain a meeting’s objectives by refocusing members to prevent them from wandering off the main agenda.
- Determine if there is progress to address bottlenecks, if any.
- Shed light on any misunderstanding.
- Help out the secretary if need be.
- Control the business meeting to ensure that it happens within the scheduled time.
- Highlight the essential points gathered from the meeting.
- Arrange the date and time for the next business meeting.
- At the end of the meeting, thank all members for their contributions.
2. Informal meetings
These types of meetings do not follow conventional rules like the formal ones above. Most of their discussion or brainstorming sessions aren’t strict and, in most cases, don’t require minute keeping. They are common between business managers who may wish to deliberate on particular issues such as progress reports.
However, to create value from such settings, you may have to:
- Develop a plan for each meeting.
- Prepare members in advance by informing them about an impending meeting; besides, issuing them the business meeting’s agenda.
- Constructively seek to understand the members’ concerns and give them a chance to air their views.
- Elicit some positive feedback from the participants, if possible.
- Explain to the members any required expectations or standards.
- Explore specific issues that are preventing improvement.
- Evaluate what can be dealt with.
- Brainstorm and agree on the SMART goals and follow-up actions that can improve the issue at hand.
- Develop an improvement plan.
- End the business meeting on an optimistic but realistic note.
3. Project status or update meetings
Such types of meetings are usually held to precisely determine the current status of an ongoing project. Furthermore, this occurs between the project manager, facilitators and employees involved in the task at hand.
In such meetings, every participant is usually encouraged to provide insight and state with any existing challenges.
Doing so enables project managers to:
- Be aware of task updates
- Determine budget status
- Schedule status update
- Identify scope/quality update
- Determine anticipated or current issues
- Address teething problems
- Set new goals
- And determine the best way forward
As a project manager or facilitator, you can ensure the effectiveness of such meetings by implementing the BLISS strategy.
The BLISS strategy is as follows:
B – Be efficient
Doing so will ensure that everyone’s time is respected, allowing them to focus on the immediate task.
Some of the techniques you can use include:
- Assigning members time-intensive and tedious tasks as homework to avoid going through material and reports during a business meeting
- Only inviting the most critical members into a meeting
- Having a timekeeper to alert members about the remaining time in each agenda
- Facilitation techniques such as simultaneous documentation to allow quick development of ideas and content
L – Look back: Look forward
This refers to previewing an immediate past timeframe and an immediate upcoming one to allow your team to zero in on a project’s current status.
To put this technique into action, you can consider:
- Producing a project plan that emphasises a project’s immediate needs
- Highlighting primary achievements on a project’s schedule
- Summarising significant activities that have contributed to a project’s current state
- Asking team members and leaders to prepare for potential challenges or issues
I – Insist on accountability
To ensure that your project runs effectively and on schedule, every team member must be accountable for their given tasks.
For such to happen, you need to:
- Develop a flip chart detailing the chores assigned to each member and their respective due dates
- Ensure that each member confirms that they have understood their given tasks and roles
- Allow members to suggest when they can complete the duties – if need be, negotiate with them.
- Review past action items at the start of the update meetings
- Elaborate on the repercussions of not completing the given tasks at the beginning of the project
S – Simplify the agenda
For a short and effective meeting, you need to make the agenda consistent and straightforward. You can achieve such by precisely showcasing what would be dealt with in each update meeting. Furthermore, distribute a meeting’s agenda early enough to the members for them to prepare.
S – Stay focused
To avoid deviating from the topic at hand, you need to keep your team members focused.
These can be achieved by:
- Appointing a person responsible for pointing out if a meeting starts going off-topic
- Creating specific rules concerned with maintaining a team’s focus
- Use a timer when discussing issues that are not on the program outline
- File off-topic matters for later discussion
- Ask if the raised issues can be discussed outside the meeting.
Not to forget, you can use PowerPoint slides to impress your audience and enable better understanding. This stems from the fact that they provide engaging presentations by incorporating visual aid which maintains an audience’s attention.
4. Planning meetings
Your organisation will often require this type of business meeting to enable its growth and rally members to support and implement developmental plans. Such include project, product roadmap and campaign planning, among others. There are a lot of business planning apps available. These help people with this crucial part of a project.
They mainly involve an already established team and a few experts who can be onboarded to provide specific experience or insights.
Such meetings are usually chaired by an outside facilitator or project manager and require team members to participate in the discussions actively.
Their primary aim is to get the job done. Therefore, personal relationships aren’t that important – individuals can get to know each other as time goes by.
A unique feature about these gatherings is that they are typically not governed by any specific rules; neither do they follow particular rituals. Most of the meeting time is spent on producing a plan.
They mostly happen early in a project’s life cycle, which makes them noteworthy and worth understanding.
To effectively chair such a meeting, you can:
- Start by explaining to the members the overall objects or goals of the meeting.
- Analyse the existing scenario and formulate the planning details
- Review the plan’s content and confirm its development
5. Governance cadence business meetings
As a company CEO or business executive, you’ll require this type of business meeting to develop your business’s oversight and strategic decisions. Examples of such include quarterly strategic reviews and board meetings.
They follow a formal format and are mostly chaired by a senior company representative. Members are allowed to air their views regarding governance freely and what they feel is essential for the organisation. Furthermore, deliberate on any ongoing challenges and plans.
How to conduct such meetings:
- Share the meeting agenda in advance for members to prepare
- Personally brief each member on what is going to be discussed to avoid surprises
- Conduct a check-in process to enable members to discard any distractions and become alert regarding the on-goings. Allow each member to speak, one at a time.
- Share administrative concerns with the members. For example, how long the meeting would take place, among other details
- Add a few items to the existing plan if necessary
- Brainstorm each agenda item using an integrated decision-making process
- End the meeting with a closing reflection to enable improved upcoming meetings
6. Innovation meetings
From time to time, your organisation will require new ideas to enable expansion. Fortunately, these types of business meetings can come in handy in such situations. They can allow the gathering of enough ideas, from which you can filter to identify the most appropriate ones.
At first, they might appear obscure to your team members; however, they are crucial for the growth and survival of your company. This stems from the fact that they give your organisation a chance of trying out something new.
You can use the following tips to gain value from an innovation meeting:
- Set out clear objectives by developing a solid agenda regarding the discussion to minimise time wastage
- Recap the previous meeting to resolve any miscommunications that could have taken place, as well as improve information retention
- Identify a redesigned or new approach to a problem
- Set the stage and generate a flow of ideas
- Freely share ideas with the participants without judgment
- Tap into the members’ different perspectives
- Brainstorm and evaluate the presented ideas
- Involve the stakeholders to guarantee a follow-through
7. Team building meetings
To bring about effective collaboration between your teams, it is crucial to conduct such business meetings from time to time. They enable the development of personal relationships between your employees, which can support or encourage your organisation’s growth and progress.
Examples of such include corporate outings or activities for the entire organisation or team departments to provide opportunities for socialisation.
You can achieve a fruitful team building meeting by:
- Preparing the meeting’s agenda in advance to identify objectives and priorities
- Asking input from some of the members regarding what to include on the agenda
- Spicing up the session by incorporating some fun activities. For instance, celebrating something, running a team-building exercise, inviting guest speakers, or bringing food, among other activities
- Allowing some time for spontaneous engagement and creativity
- Collaborating on particular activities, for example, working with the teams to arrive at a specific decision or solve a specific problem
- Lightening up the meeting
- Following up on the action items and making sure that the participants live up to their words
- Being a role model leader by not letting down your guard
8. Problem-solving meetings
Problems are part and parcel of running a business. To resolve them, you might be forced to convene such conferences to discuss the way forward.
This kind of business meeting happens with specific objectives in mind depending on the issues at hand.
They provide team members with an opportunity to discuss and analyse possible answers to the existing problem.
To ensure the success of such meetings, you can consider the following steps:
- Precisely define the meeting’s objectives or problem to solve
- Determine and prioritise constraints and requirements of the potential solutions
- Allow the participants to air their thoughts and then consider the most appropriate solutions
- Ask questions, brainstorm on the provided answers, combine the ideas and closely analyse the top solutions
- Concur on a specific solution or give the business owner or manager a chance to have the final say
9. Decision-making business meetings
Running a successful business requires time-to-time decision-making. To make a big decision, you need input from the different groups or members of your organisation which calls for this kind of business meeting.
Such decisions might require several miniature decision-making meetings to allow members to collect relevant details, develop solutions and deliberate on the best way forward.
One of the significant downsides of this type of meeting is that it can be time-consuming.
Therefore, as a leader, you can integrate the following steps to ease the process:
- Consider all the essential details from as many stakeholders as you can to identify the most suitable solutions.
- Develop and analyse the possible solutions
- Involve everyone on board when considering the most appropriate solutions
As you can see, business meetings play a pivotal role in the effective running of organisations. Therefore as a business executive, you need to identify with each of them to understand how you can conduct them effectively. The above-mentioned tips can significantly help you out.
Originally published May 19, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023