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Business Meeting Skills: 6 common mistakes to avoid

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

Arranging and leading a successful meeting begins with preparation. You must decide if a meeting is necessary. You must decide on the agenda and you must decide who should attend the meeting. Some meetings aren’t necessary as the issues can best be solved without a meeting. However, if you do decide to organize a meeting, avoid these common mistakes.

1. Mistake 1: No agenda

Without an agenda, there are no clear goals to focus on and participants can’t prepare for the meeting in advance. Meetings without an agenda are often a waste of time because the participants end up talking about a lot of different topics with no clear focus. It’s also very difficult to make decisions if there is no agenda of items to discuss.

2. Mistake 2: Communicate before the meeting

Email the participants to get their input on the agenda and to let them know what you’d like to achieve during the meeting. Communicating before the meeting helps you to better understand each person’s ideas so you can manage those opinions and make decisions during the meeting.

3. Mistake 3: Poor time management

The most productive meetings start on time, end on time and have clear time limits for agenda items. Participants will be happy to contribute. They will avoid wasting time and stay focused on the goals of the meeting if they know the meeting will finish on time.

4. Mistake 4: Not taking a leadership role

During a meeting, people may have a number of different opinions. There will be arguments and disagreements. Active discussion is good, but as the leader of the meeting, you must make sure the discussion doesn’t get off the topic or become negative and personal. To avoid this, you must intervene directly from time to time to highlight disagreements, summarize the discussion, look for consensus. Use time limits to manage the discussion. Don’t just let the discussion, disagreement and argument continue.

5. Mistake 5: Make sure everyone contributes

Everyone you’ve invited to the meeting is expected to contribute ideas and opinions [otherwise you shouldn’t have invited them to the meeting]. To effectively lead a meeting, you must make sure everyone contributes. Keep everyone involved by asking questions or asking for comments. “Tom, I’d like to get your ideas on this ...” “Mary, we haven’t heard from you. What do you think about ...?”

6. Mistake 6: Not building consensus

Although participants may have different opinions, your role is to get information, encourage discussion, manage viewpoints and move towards a group consensus. This means you must lead the discussion and summarize ideas. By summarizing what was said, you can lead the participants towards an agreement and a decision.


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