What is Business Meeting?
A business meeting is a gathering of two or more people to discuss business-related matters and take decisions. It is a verbal form of communication among people. Business meetings are more useful than other communication tools such as e-mail, chat or SharePoint. Meetings are a way of getting a group together to discuss a common issue.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Business Meeting?
- 2 Need of Meetings
- 3 Importance of Meetings
- 4 Requirements of Conducting a Meeting
- 5 Role of Participants in a Meeting
- 6 What is Conference?
In general, a meeting takes place when two or more people meet and deliberate on an issue. It can be a meeting of groups such as Functional Heads, Board of Directors, or an Employee’s Association meeting. Every meeting must be productive and have a specific objective.
For this, all members of the meeting must individually contribute to maximising the potential of the team. A meeting solves multiple purposes in an organisational setting. For example, it can provide a solution to a problem, settle disputes between departments, apprise employees about important operation announcements, etc.
For the proper conduct of a business meeting, directors and stakeholders must meet when necessary and take decisions on relevant matters after proper discussion. In other words, an organisation must hold business meetings for its proper functioning and meetings have great importance in the decision-making process.
Need of Meetings
Broadly, meetings are conducted for providing information, discussing and solving an issue and sharing a sense of belongingness. The need for holding meetings is explained in the following points:
- To make decisions
- To share information
- To announce changes
- To negotiate
- To resolve conflicts
- To solve problems
- To evaluate and communicate progress
- To celebrate success
- To build relationships
To make decisions
This is the most common purpose of a business meeting. Two or more people meet face-to-face to discuss and decide on a predetermined issue. The issue can be related to a routine or a non-routine business matter.
A business meeting is used to communicate some information, which can lead to questions. Such information usually involves question-and-answer sessions from participants. For example, a manager wants to share information regarding team restructuring.
Here, a meeting is required because the team members will be affected by this move. Naturally, they will have questions about their new roles and responsibilities.
To announce changes
If a manager wants to announce an impending change in a policy, mission, vision, team structure, etc., then the manager should call a meeting. This is because the manager will be able to explain the reasons, benefits and background of changes in the meeting.
The manager will be able to resolve the doubts and concerns of the team satisfactorily. This will help neutralise the change resistance, which is inevitable in such changes.
A meeting is the most useful tool for negotiation between two conflicting parties such as an employer and a trade union, employees and organisation, competitive organisations, and an organisation and a government body. For example, a sales meeting is held face-to-face as sales personnel need to negotiate, influence and persuade their customers.
To resolve conflicts
Conflicts may arise at the workplace due to differences in opinion or perspective. If a conflict motivates employees to improve their performance, then it is positive. However, if a conflict leads to mistrust and resentment, then it is negative as it lowers the team productivity.
To resolve such negative conflicts, it is essential to get conflicting employees to meet face-to-face with each other and resolve their issues.
To solve problems
Business meetings are important if employees are required to provide a solution to the organisational problem. If these problems require a critical analysis and viewpoints of participants, then they can be most effectively and quickly resolved through a meeting.
To evaluate and communicate progress
Status update meetings are essential in any project, plan, or activity because they inform the manager and the teams about the current status of the projects. The attendees can openly share their opinions about the project and brainstorm solutions to resolve problems.
To celebrate success
Meetings are important to celebrate the completion of a milestone or a project, achievement of an award, reward and recognition for outstanding contribution, etc. This helps develop harmony among various teams and motivates employees to achieve even more.
To build relationships
Meetings are also conducted to build meaningful relationships within and outside organisations. In these meetings, one should focus on the other party. Ask others to speak first about a subject.
Listen to their viewpoints and challenge them to think from another or a deeper perspective. Give positive feedback when required. The praise should be genuine and specific.
Importance of Meetings
A meeting is a significant communication tool in the workplace. Without meetings, business operations cannot be conducted smoothly. The meetings are important for:
When an e-mail is sent to a person, there is a chance that the e-mail may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. If the e-mail is quite long, then it might even confuse a person or complicate the meaning.
A prominent disadvantage of e-mail communication is that an individual cannot see the other party’s body language, which comprises 55% of our communication. Our facial expressions, body posture and gestures play an important role in communication.
Therefore, a business meeting is needed to communicate in such a way that there is no room left for any misrepresentation or confusion.
Suppose a salesperson presents a product to a customer for selling. The customer is in two minds about the product, and the salesperson needs to convince him to go ahead and buy it. In such a situation, will an e-mail suffice? Certainly not.
A business meeting enables an organisation to win a customer’s trust through perception, choice of words, dressing sense, and body language. People can assertively present themselves and win the customer’s trust. Although this is possible through e-mail. Also, however, the trust-building process will take a longer time.
Team meetings are great at strengthening teams. Running a few but effective meetings will help an organisation improve teamwork and collaboration. This is because people sit together and get to know each other and their shared goals. This knowledge will instil a sense of urgency to overcome a challenge together.
In a meeting, an organisation can invite participants to share new ideas and solutions to a problem. Such brainstorming meetings should ideally be held for days to derive better results. Ideas need to be proposed, incubated and shared again.
Requirements of Conducting a Meeting
To conduct an effective meeting, planning and communication are the most important things to consider. A haphazardly planned meeting can often lead to chaos and ambiguity.
The following strategies need to be considered while conducting a meeting:
- Set Objective for the Meeting
- Provide an Agenda Beforehand
- Assign Meeting Preparation
- Assign Action Items
- Examine Your Meeting Process
Set Objective for the Meeting
One benefit of setting objectives for the meeting is to help you plan the meeting. The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. A second important benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting.
- Were you successful in meeting the objectives? Why or why not?
- Is another meeting required?
- Setting meeting objectives allows you to continuously improve your effective meeting process.
Provide an Agenda Beforehand
Provide all participants with an agenda before the meeting starts. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long. When you send the agenda, you should include the time, date and location of the meeting and any background information participants will need to know to hold an informed discussion on the meeting topic. What’s the most important thing you should do with your agenda ? Follow it closely!
Assign Meeting Preparation
Give all participants something to prepare for the meeting, and that meeting will take on a new significance to each group member. For problem–solving meetings, have the group read the background information necessary to get down to business in the meeting. Ask each group member to think of one possible solution to the problem to get everyone thinking about the meeting topic.
For example, to start a sales meeting on a positive note, have all participants recall their biggest success since the last meeting and ask one person to share his success with the group.
Assign Action Items
Don’t finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it. Listen for key comments that flag potential action items and don’t let them pass by without addressing them during your meeting. Statements such as We should really…, that’s a topic for a different meeting…, or I wonder if we could… are examples of comments that should trigger action items to get a task done, hold another meeting or further examine a particular idea.
Assigning tasks and projects as they arise during the meeting means that your follow–through will be complete. Addressing off–topic statements during the meeting in this way also allows you to keep the meeting on track.
By immediately addressing these statements with the suggestion of making an action item to examine the issue outside of the current meeting, you show meeting participants that you value their input as well as their time.
Examine Your Meeting Process
Assign the last few minutes of every meeting as time to review the following questions:
- What worked well in this meeting?
- What can we do to improve our next meeting?
- Every participant should briefly provide a point–form answer to these questions. Answers to the second question should be phrased as a suggested action.
Role of Participants in a Meeting
A participant who is invited to attend a meeting is known as a mem- ber. The role of a member is equally important as that of a chairper- son. Usually, it is the members who actually put forward their viewpoints and queries. The effectiveness of a meeting largely depends upon the conduct of its members and the quality of their inputs.
To improve their contribution, the members attending a meeting should follow these rules:
- Be punctual
- Attitude matters
- Phone etiquette
- Be an active listener
- Stay on the agenda
- Body language
Always go through the agenda items before attending a meeting. Have an understanding of agenda items and collect the related information. A knowledgeable member is always an asset to any meeting.
Always be on time to attend the meeting. It shows sincerity towards the organisation’s interests. A meeting started on time also finishes on time.
Always attend the meeting with a positive frame of mind. Try to contribute constructively towards the issue at hand. A positive attitude of members is essential to come to a conclusion.
Treat other members attending the meeting with respect. A member should not display a dominant position while discussing an issue during the meeting. Follow the simple rule of give respect, get respect.
While attending a meeting, it is pertinent to put mobile phones on silent or vibration mode. Any disturbance caused by a ring of the mobile phone is highly annoying. In case of emergency, go outside the room and attend the call.
Be an active listener
It is very important to patiently listen to others’ viewpoints. Even if there is disagreement on any aspect, do not interrupt the speaker. Let the conversation finish first and then present your views.
Stay on the agenda
As a member of the meeting, always discuss issues under the agenda items. Never discuss anything beyond the purview of the meeting. Refrain from discussing personal issues in a meeting. Once the discussion is complete, do not start discussing the same issue under a different agenda item.
Never point fingers towards others while discussing. Always seem alert while others are speaking.
What is Conference?
A conference is a sort of meeting that is formal in nature and can have many delegates. The word is derived from the Latin word ‘conferentia’, which infers to bring together. A conference offers an opportunity to people within an organisation or from the same industry to exchange best business practices, while establishing professional relationships with like-minded people.
A conference is focused on a predefined theme and has many speakers who may present their perspectives on the same situation, area of proficiency or problem. Generally, conferences are held in large conference halls designed with amenities such as refreshment areas and presentation equipment.
Importance of Conferences
A conference is a great way to communicate and address a large number of people having common areas of interest. It requires intensive time, planning and resources to have a successful conference. The reason why a conference is important is explained as follows:
One of the prime reasons for conducting a conference is to develop a connection with like-minded people and industry professionals. A conference brings together people from various geographical locations and is a great way to meet new people from similar fields.
To launch a new product or service If an organisation is offering a new product or service, a conference is an ideal way to introduce it to both clients and employees. At the same time, it also offers an opportunity to demonstrate the product and share its benefits.
A conference provides professionals an opportunity to come together at a venue, expound best business practices and industry insights. For an organisation, a conference is an opportunity to obtain inputs from participants and may provide new insight/ideas.
To enhance goodwill
A conference is also a perfect opportunity for an organisation to celebrate its success with other organisations, praise employees for their dedication and efforts.
Organising a Conference
The advent of innovative methods such as videoconferencing and teleconference has facilitated interactive communication between participants, without being physically present. A conference is a tool for learning and training and development.
Participants come together, share their knowledge and experience, and discuss their problems. Conferencing using technology has dispensed the need to come at a central point for face-to-face interaction.
A conference is a meeting of a large group of persons assembled to discuss common problems or share their expertise. The number of participants may range between 50 to 500 or even more. A large conference is divided into small groups for the purpose of discussions. A phone connection is must for teleconferencing, which is similar to a normal telephonic conversation.
The only change is that in teleconferencing, more than two persons present at different geographical locations can talk to or listen to each other on the same call. Present-day telecommunication service providers also offer the facility of teleconferencing wherein more than 20 individuals could be connected for a common conversation. The greatest advantage of teleconferencing is that communication could happen irrespective of the location of the participants.
It saves a lot of time and travelling expenditure for the organisation. Teleconferencing in the business world is being widely used owing to the easy availability of options such as conference calls, Web conferences and Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) communications.
On the other hand, through videoconferencing, both voice and video messages can be exchanged among the participants present at different geographical locations. For communicating via videoconferencing, each individual requires certain equipment such as a camera, microphone, monitors and signal conversion equipment. The greatest advantage of videoconferencing is that participants can see and hear each other.
Such kind of communication tool is very important when it is requisite to display something (product or provide physical evidence) during the discussion. Moreover, teleconferencing, it saves a lot on time and travelling expenditure. Depending upon the availability of equipment, videoconferencing could have certain limitations. It could be one-way audio and one-way video, two-way audio and one-way video, and both ways audio-video calls.