An important part of day-to-day business is business meetings, which can be held daily, weekly, monthly or at the convenience of management or department heads. Their purpose is usually to make decisions relevant to the company or to follow up on specific issues.
However, conducting a good business meeting presents a number of meeting challenges and potential problems that must be taken into account. Whether the meeting is successful or not depends on the ability to solve and manage these challenges. If you want to know all of them and learn how to solve them, keep reading!
- Business meetings are essential so that the members of a company can share their opinions and move towards a common project or goal.
- The 5 Ps for an effective meeting are purpose, participants, planning, participation and perspective.
- According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, eliminating three business meetings a week increases company productivity by 73% (4).
What you need to know about the main challenges of business meetings
We all want the business meetings we organize or attend to go perfectly. For this to be possible, it is very important to be aware of the possible problems or inconveniences that may appear and to know how to solve them. Below, we bring you an explanation of each one of them.
How long should the duration be?
If meetings are too long, it is likely that your participants will end up losing their concentration, energy and stop contributing good ideas to the topic at hand. They will also start to think and focus their attention on other things outside the meeting.
It has been proven that a business meeting that is too long will be less productive and will have far fewer results. Therefore, the recommended duration is always less than one hour. The key is that the meeting is well planned, orderly and that the roles of participation are clear.
How long should it last?
Meetings are not always necessary, and too many meetings can also be detrimental to worker productivity. The time a worker spends in a meeting cannot be spent on other tasks or projects. In addition, if meetings are called in excess, they will become a monotonous resource and will lose their exceptional nature.
Advantages and disadvantages of weekly meetings
Defining the ideal regularity of meetings is a difficult task. Many companies opt for weekly meetings, as they are halfway between daily meetings and monthly, quarterly and semi-annual meetings. These are often referred to as follow-up meetings and don’t usually involve major decisions. Here are the pros and cons of this type of meeting.
- They guarantee periodic control of the processes.
- Facilitate the adoption of solutions and correction of failures.
- Avoid the monotony of daily meetings.
- They increase the confidence of the workgroup.
- When the processes do not provide significant novelties.
- Lack of significant issues to be addressed.
- Economic cost.
- Time invested.
Cost of meetings
Business meetings have an economic cost. For this reason, it is important that they are really necessary and add value to the company’s processes. When calculating their real cost, the following values must be taken into account (2).
- A number of people participating in the work meeting.
- Time spent in the meeting.
- Value of their hourly wage.
- Preparation expenses.
- Others: room rental, light, photocopies, refreshments, etc..,
How does unpunctuality affect you?
When one of the meeting participants arrives late, it generally causes discomfort among those already at the meeting. Delays create interruptions and raise questions or issues that have already been discussed.
Likewise, it is also very important that the meeting ends on time and on time. Everyone has a busy schedule and other commitments. Therefore, it is also disrespectful to the participants if the meeting lasts longer than planned.
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What happens when meeting roles are not clear?
For the smooth running of the meeting, it is essential that the meeting roles are clear and that each participant is clear about their role. If the meeting is not properly moderated, it is difficult to respect the turns to speak and chaos may ensue (5).
What is the impact of not following the meeting agenda?
To make the most of the meeting time and obtain the best results, it is essential that the meeting is planned in advance and follows a specific agenda and order. The items to be discussed should be specified in advance, as well as the time devoted to each one.
Read How To Create An Agenda For Your Meeting
Likewise, in order for the meeting to be well adapted to the planned schedule, it is very important that it does not include an excessive number of topics to be discussed. There must be sufficient time for the topics to be discussed in depth and for questions and clarifications to be provided.
How do unclear objectives affect the meeting?
It is very important that the meeting notice specifies the reasons and objectives of the meeting. If the goals of the meeting are not clear, this will make your team unproductive and time will be wasted during the meeting. Prior to the meeting, there must be a plan and clarity regarding what decisions need to be made before the meeting ends.
However, there are different types of meetings and each has different meeting objectives and purposes (1). These are briefly explained below.
- Informative or top-down meetings. They are called by the manager to convey information to the employees.
- Consultative or bottom-up meetings. They are called with the purpose of knowing the opinions of their collaborators for later decision-making.
- Working or analytical meetings. They are called to jointly analyze the causes of a problem and propose possible solutions.
- Decision meetings. The objective is the decision making by the participating group.
How to prepare properly?
For a business meeting to be successful, it is very important that the agenda and the issues to be discussed are clear. It is also highly recommended that, prior to the meeting, sufficient materials or documentation is provided that needs to be known in advance (3).
With the appropriate materials, meeting participants will be able to prepare their interventions based on the objectives and documentation they have. This will also help to avoid uneven and disorganized presentations and ensure that everyone is well-informed about the topic in question.
Read more about Preparing For Meetings
Steps to follow when preparing for a meeting
Here are the steps to follow to ensure that a meeting is well-prepared and successful.
- Invite the right people who can add value to the meeting with their participation.
- Develop an agenda and pre-planning.
- Provide prior and necessary documentation to the participants.
- Set out clear objectives and reasons why the meeting is being held.
- Prepare the space where the meeting is to be held in advance.
- Specify the date, time and duration of the meeting in accordance with the objectives and topics to be discussed.
What about the lack of follow-up?
For a meeting to be effective, it is not only important what happens within the meeting itself. If it is well planned, has an agenda to follow and is carried out successfully, it is a very good start. But for the meeting to be effective, it is critical that the agreed agreements are put into practice afterwards, and that the actions to be taken do not remain only on paper.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that future follow-up meetings be held to ensure that the agreed measures are being applied in the company’s day-to-day operations. It must also be very clear who is in charge of supervising and carrying out each task so that they can become effective.
What happens when the space is not the most suitable?
The space where a work meeting is held has, without a doubt, a great influence on how those who participate in it will feel. A pleasant environment with the right elements will make the participants feel more comfortable to intervene and express their opinions.
It is also very important that the technical and audiovisual elements work well and do not generate problems. Interruptions can create distractions that affect the pace of the meeting and diminish creativity.
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Practical elements that prevent a business meeting from being successful
There are many elements and factors that can contribute to a pleasant work meeting climate or, on the contrary, create stress and discomfort. The following are the physical elements that can make it difficult for a business meeting to be successful.
How does the low participation of attendees affect?
The low participation of the workers attending the meeting can make it very boring. In addition, without the variety of opinions that attendees can contribute, it will be difficult to reach meaningful decisions and make the meeting productive.
Similarly, participants who monopolize the floor and lack active listening are also a problem. They may cause others to feel uncomfortable or find it much more difficult to contribute their point of view (6).
A good way to remedy this is to send the agenda and the necessary documentation to the attendees in advance so that they can prepare it properly.
Making a business meeting go perfectly is a much more complex task than it seems. There are many elements that must be taken into account for it to run smoothly and for meaningful decisions to be reached.
In addition, as we have seen, the assessment of whether a business meeting has been successful or not can hardly be made after the meeting is over. You have to follow up afterwards and evaluate the objectives to see if they have been met or not. You will see that the tips in this article will make it much easier for meetings to run smoothly.
1. Pérez Gregorio, María Gloria. Las reuniones de trabajo. Didactic Publications; 2016 
2. López Fresno, Palmira. Exploratory study on the concept, typology and meanings of work meetings. Universitat Rovira i Virgili; 2018 
3. Cetina Canto, Thelma; Aguilar Ortega, Cecilia; Escalada, Rodolfo A. Bosses and conduction of work meetings: a proposal to address the personal dimension. Universidad de la República, Montevideo; 2012 
4. La Vanguardia. Los 9 errores que subtract effectiveness and sense to work meetings. 2022 
5. Alejandra Bertoldi, Carolina. Research work: “Effective meetings”. Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Faculty of Economics, Mendoza; 2020 
6. Meinecke, Annika L., Lehmann-Willenbrock, Nale. Social dynamics at work: Meetings as a gateway. The Cambridge handbook of meeting science (pp. 325-356). Cambridge University Press; 2015