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How to Plan and Structure More Effective Meetings

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How to Plan and Structure More Effective Meetings

f you feel like you’re leading or sitting in more meetings than ever before, you are. Most professionals are attending more meetings than pre-pandemic days. In fact, there are 55 million meetings a week in the U.S. – that translates to 11 million meetings a day and a staggering 1 billion meetings a year. Eighty-three percent of people spend about five to eight hours every week in meetings.

While meetings are a great way to share information, collaborate and find solutions as a team, the problem arises when meetings are unproductive, inefficient, too long or simply unnecessary. Stats show that businesses waste 24 billion hours and lose $37 billion due to unproductive meetings. To avoid experiencing some of that loss yourself, now is a good time to review how you’re conducting meetings in your shop or distributorship. 

“Since the pandemic, businesses I’ve worked with have been meeting more, and by more, I mean a commitment to at least a monthly team meeting,” says Tyrone M. Robinson III, owner and business consultant at Opportunities 2 Serve.

“In businesses with 20 employees, I've seen a commitment to at least a weekly meeting, even if it's just for managers. There’s been much more openness to building channels of communication to increase productivity and transparency across the organization.”
- Tyrone M. Robinson III, owner and business consultant at Opportunities 2 Serve

Get ready to drill down into what types of meetings are most productive for your business – and how to keep employees motivated, the right way.

How Our Meetings Changed Since Mid-2020

Here are a few ways that decorator and distributor meetings have changed over the past couple of years.

More frequent meetings:

At The Visual Identity Vault, owner Tanya Doyscher’s team met on the fly during the pandemic. Now, her team meets at least once a week to go over production schedules, what’s coming down the pipeline and any new ideas people bring to the table.  

“We find that meetings once a week make us a more cohesive group. When someone’s out, we include them over Zoom to keep everyone in the loop.”
Tanya Doyscher, owner at the The Visual Identity Vault

More frequent communication:

There was a lot of concern and fear during the pandemic. “After lockdown was over there was adjustment, since everyone had their own level of comfort with coming back to a communal space, adjusting to issues like supply shortages, or new social distancing requirements,” says Kristine Shreve, director of marketing at LynniePinnie Designs

“Communication was a big factor, and the shops that did best were the ones that communicated consistently and clearly.  Anyone who’s ever worked in a group knows the rumor mill’s always churning, so frequent meetings are one way to put rumors to rest.”  - Kristine Shreve, director of marketing at LynniePinnie Designs

Online meetings:  

As more people transitioned to permanently working remotely, or transitioned to doing contract work, online meetings became more prevalent. “One of my main jobs now involves working with people who live in different states,” Shreve says. “All of our meetings are virtual or through Messenger.

The con of working that way is you don't have the ability to sit face to face and some emotional intelligence is lost when viewing someone through a computer screen and a camera but, at the same time, it's opened up a lot more possibilities for collaboration and employment.”  

Meeting employee needs: 

Robinson points out that employees' needs did change during the pandemic, but have reverted back to typical needs. “That’s why different types of meetings – like manager’s meetings, leadership meetings, one-on-ones – with different meeting leaders like owners, managers, HR and outside consultants allows for each meeting to have its own flow and objectives.”

8 Types of Meetings to Put on Your Radar

Here are nine types of meetings that could benefit your employees – and your bottom line. 

1. Daily meetings or huddles: 

A holdover from the pandemic, a fast stand-up meeting is a great way to connect with managers or your team on a regular basis for a rundown of daily goals. Typically, a shop schedules the huddle at the same time every morning. These meetings are quick and intimate. “Another version of this is the leadership meeting to provide personal, professional development and growth opportunities,” Robinson says. 

2. Weekly check-in meetings:

Like huddles, these are pretty common and shops hold them regularly for lots of reasons. These include: sharing progress updates; ensuring everyone’s clear about their roles; getting feedback; tackling challenges; deciding on next step; and more. These meetings often have a virtual component – and are vital for managers to keep employees informed, motivated and on track. 

Use these quick meetings for weekly one-on-ones or team meetings, new employee onboarding check-ins and project debriefs. “Many decorators and distributors have built-in opportunities to offer weekly support for employees,” he says. “The issues covered in each meeting differ.”  “ 

“Weekly meetings typically tackle issues that arise throughout the week – everything from organizational tasks and requests to discussing and problem-solving through issues or concerns.”
Tyrone M. Robinson III, owner and business consultant at Opportunities 2 Serve

Doyscher says that when her whole team meets weekly, they feel stronger as a company. “We go over production, new jobs we’re about to start, and if there are any issues with existing orders that we need to address,” she says. 

3. Monthly meetings:

Monthly gatherings are typically a recap of the previous month's successes, a collection of wins and highlights from the month, an outline of new initiatives, and an opportunity for team members to contribute to the overall strategy and objectives of the company,” Robinson says.

4. Decision-making meetings:

A manager or team leader schedules this type of meeting to come to a specific conclusion or decide a next step. For example: Should we hire this person? Should we invest in this particular press or that one? Should we cut costs in this particular area?

The key to this meeting is setting a clear agenda, providing all pertinent details to make a decision and a time limit. If you can’t reach consensus in 45 minutes, reschedule the meeting for a later time.“Agendas are always helpful, even if they’re informal,” Shreve says. “Maybe it’s just making handwritten notes to remind you what topics to cover.” 

“Meetings without an agenda tend to spiral all over the place,  and someone always forgets to mention something vital. Having some organization will help the meeting stay on track.”
Kristine Shreve, director of marketing at LynniePinnie Designs.  

5. Brainstorming meetings:

When you have a problem in your shop, this type of meeting will help you out, whether it’s operational issues, productivity problems, high employee turnover, or something else like launching a new product or service. The goal of this meeting is for participants to provide as many potential solutions as possible. It’s important to have as many diverse perspectives as possible, to also identify “blind spots” or problem areas. Once you’ve decided on a solution, you can proceed to figuring out how to implement it.

6. Team-building meetings:

These meetings strengthen teamwork and trust – and a chance for a manager to connect with their teams. However, these can also function well as staff-run meetings. With more people now working remotely, virtual team-building meetings are a must, not a maybe. 

“I always encourage periodic staff-run meetings. However, you must set an agenda and goals that you share in advance with all participants. Put the agenda in an organizational communication tool for additional commentary after the meeting.”
- Tyrone M. Robinson III, owner and business consultant at Opportunities 2 Serve

7. Quarterly planning meetings:

These meetings are great opportunities for your team to gather offsite to focus on your strategic short- and long-term goals. (You can include long-distance team members by video.) They’re also a good time to review your previous quarter to see where you’ve succeeded and where you can improve.”

8. Sales meetings:

Meetings just for your sales team are crucial to your success – both as a team and one-on-one. It’s important to track progress (“how many cold calls did you make this week”) and celebrate wins (“how many new clients did you close”?). 

But it’s also important to see where there might be issues or bottlenecks in an individual reps’ sales processes. (You can come armed with information from your CRM system to review actual numbers of cold calls.) Like every other meeting, having a clear agenda is key: reviewing last week’s numbers; planning for the coming week; answering questions; assigning specific tasks and more.

Your Meeting ‘Sweet Spot’

Only you know what your shop’s sweet spot is – based on how many employees and departments you have, your team’s unique needs, and how often meetings are needed in order to make the magic happen.  

The best rules of thumb are to only schedule meetings when they’re necessary and to let participants know in advance the agenda, the goals and how long you plan to meet. Giving people parameters and what’s expected of them will help your meetings be more productive and enjoyable for everyone.

Jan 15, 2023