As a leader or meeting facilitator, you know how many different types of business meetings there are. You must plan and conduct one-on-one meetings, team meetings, distributed meetings, stakeholder meetings, client meetings, and many others. But few types of meetings are more important than those on the executive level.
Leadership meetings are crucial because they set the tone for the organization for all meeting participants. A bad meeting in this category can cause your business to take a major downturn, while a good meeting can transform your company.
Executive meetings provide the ideal platform for leaders to connect, discuss needs, and address common problems and goals. Learning how to create an action plan for an effective meeting can ensure that your team stays inspired, productive, and collaborative while moving your company in the right direction.
Poised wants to get you off to a strong start by teaching you how to run a great meeting that benefits your executives and organization as a whole.
How Do You Run an Executive Meeting?
To learn the art of facilitating a productive executive meeting, you must first understand why these meetings are so valuable. For example, they ensure the company’s leaders are aligned on organizational goals and able to achieve them together. Your management team should be a well-oiled machine made up of decision-makers and risk-takers. Balancing the conversations between this many creative and focused people can sometimes be challenging.
Every leader comes to the table with different priorities centered on their specific department or job role. When meeting time comes, CFO naturally concentrates more on finances while the HR Director cares more about decision-making related to budget cuts that will impact their staff. Not to mention that many executives travel for work, making it hard to maintain a consistent day-to-day schedule.
When your leaders are juggling such different, hectic schedules, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything and bring everyone together to solve problems and make decisions.
How To Focus on Communication
Focusing on communication and consistency is an excellent start. Your executive team must learn how to make the most of every minute by speaking regularly, openly, and effectively in meetings.
Remember that the overarching purpose of the meeting is to keep the company’s daily operations and processes aligned. This requires your team to efficiently solve problems and make sound decisions, and that’s simply not possible without effective communication.
Then there’s the fact that team meetings should allow you and your colleagues to build rapport and bond as a unit. Every attendee should look forward to executive meetings because they find them energizing and inspiring. Otherwise, coming to the meeting room (or Zoom session) is a waste of time.
You won’t be able to accomplish any of this if your company’s leaders have to endure poorly conducted and ill-prepared meetings. Research reveals that only 30% of United States workers are actively engaged at work, which is largely due to poor management practices. Improving meetings, bonding, and communication can help team members stay connected.
Consider these ground rules for making your next meeting as productive as possible:
Set Goals for Your Department
No matter what your specific department is, it’s essential to establish clear, realistic, and challenging goals. Your executive meeting agenda should contain some of these goals to facilitate productive conversations during the meeting itself.
Be sure to produce a context-driven agenda to send out to leadership before the meeting. The agenda should include high-priority action items so you can discuss them first. This will leave a cushion in case something takes longer to talk over than you expect and put less critical items behind those that are more urgent. Further, it should be clear to all the leaders which agenda items are open for discussion and which require a final decision.
You also want to establish goals and action items during the actual meeting. You can go over data insights with your colleagues to propose and revive sales goals. You can evaluate employee performance reviews to make staff adjustments, and you can use other metrics to set production goals or any other types of goals.
Many leaders even hold executive meetings to talk about previous goals and how their teams achieved them. This can help you to modify your goal-setting process and develop new objectives.
Highlight Any Issues That Need Attention
Every executive meeting should leave room to discuss pertinent issues related to the management team. Perhaps one of your teams is struggling to stay motivated and it’s resulting in a lack of productivity and efficiency. Maybe you took a significant sales hit last quarter. Perhaps customer feedback suggests it’s time to develop a new product or add features to an existing one.
No matter the company or industry, problems and challenges persist. It’s up to you as leaders to solve those problems and make wise decisions that guide your organization to conquering challenges. A meeting can serve as a brainstorming session to determine the best solutions for the issues at hand.
There’s no better time to work toward finding solutions than when the executives from all the company's teams and departments come together for group discussion. Take time to list out all the prevalent and potential obstacles your company is facing, and allow for all your team members to brainstorm solutions.
Discuss the Future of Your Team
It’s easy to become too focused on surviving the here-and-now when your day-to-day is hectic. But meeting with other leaders is an ideal opportunity to talk about the future of your team and the entire organization. Be sure to direct some of your team's energy on what the future might and should look like.
When your meeting starts, make time to lay out all the possibilities, challenges, and ideas. Allow your colleagues to speak their minds, and don’t be afraid to debate essential issues.
A healthy leadership team knows how to have tough conversations that challenge its members and move the company toward growth. During each meeting, check in to get on the same page about where you should take the team and the company. This will develop a roadmap that, with teamwork, can help you exceed the ROI expectations.
Make Room for Everyone’s Input
Successful meeting management ensures each leader has room to present their ideas and opinions. If you’re the facilitator, practice time management with your meeting agenda to make room for each team member’s input. This includes a presentation shared from each person’s laptop (even the introverts) and a brief follow-up discussion.
That said, your agenda won’t mean very much unless you begin your meeting on time. Meetings that start late end late. Running late to a meeting or failing to prepare well beforehand can create a snowball effect and throw the entire day off schedule before you know it.
Remember how busy you and the other leaders in the company are, and respect everyone’s time. Doing so will ensure the whole team can participate while helping you hit all your key agenda items.
Cut Off Tangents and Side Conversations
Tangents and side conversations can quickly sneak up on you in executive meetings and derail the entire conversation. Since you’re working with limited time, you must keep your meetings on topic and on track with their original purpose.
Setting clear objectives for what the team should accomplish during the meeting is an excellent start. Developing an effective agenda for achieving those objectives will also help. But there also needs to be someone in charge.
Each meeting needs a facilitator to manage the discussion. This person should serve as a traffic cop that invites people in, helps them drive at the right speed, and keeps them from taking the meeting off the beaten path. Be mindful of any stories, questions, or remarks that don’t benefit the meeting agenda.
Encourage Feedback and Constructive Criticism
Feedback is crucial for all meetings. Fostering constructive criticism among your colleagues will quickly build trust and rapport while helping each individual grow in their company role.
The key to constructive criticism is to balance positives and negatives while reinforcing your belief in each other's competence and capability. Create an open and transparent environment where people feel comfortable addressing problems they perceive and make time to praise your colleagues for specific contributions they’re making to the team.
Moreover, allow time for each leader to present at least one recent win from their department or team. That way, all the leaders can hear about the exciting developments in other areas of the business and end the meeting on a positive note that raises team morale.
Listen When Your Team Members Talk
Many executives are so used to focusing on how they can present their ideas with more impact that they neglect to work on their listening skills. But a meeting where only one person is talking isn’t really a meeting!
Think of how you can improve at listening — more specifically, active listening. Show your team members that you’re interested and engaged in their ideas, feelings, and opinions when they speak. Maintain eye contact, an open posture, and other inviting body language.
Ask open-ended questions that give them the opportunity to expand on their ideas. And paraphrase key points of their message. Do all of these things without interrupting, and you’ll quickly build rapport and trust.
Rate Your Meeting’s Success at the End
At the end of the meeting, take time to evaluate and summarize its overall success. Along with asking participants to follow up in the coming weeks, you can either review the meeting notes and reflect on developments during the meeting by yourself or convene with your colleagues to gauge the weak and strong moments.
This is a crucial step because it helps you identify areas that need improvement. You can then modify your strategies for creating and executing future leadership meeting agendas.
How Can Poised Help Executives Run Meetings?
Executive meetings hinge on communication. When teams communicate effectively, chances are pretty good that they will have productive meetings. Poor communication, on the other hand, makes it impossible for a team to accomplish its meeting agenda and purpose. AI-powered communication software like Poised can help you sharpen your communication skills as a facilitator or participant.
Get Coaching on the Most Important Communication Skills
Poised monitors your real-time and long-term performance for all the most important communication metrics. It guides you toward more clarity, empathy, energy, and confidence during meetings while helping you minimize filler words, interruptions, and other negative outcomes.
Give Your Team Members Valuable Training
At the end of the day, the Poised communication coach is a trainer. You can provide your team members with a personalized plan that addresses the specific communication areas hindering their progress.
With real-time feedback and curated content from Poised experts, your team will be equipped to reach new heights. And you don’t have to worry about paying for expensive training courses!
Track Your Communication Training Progress
As your team members implement the real-time feedback during meetings, Poised will monitor their improvements so that each person can see their progress over time. This will motivate your team to keep growing, benefitting the entire organization.
There’s no denying that great executive meetings are essential to a company's growth and success. They allow leaders to connect, work through issues, make decisions, and set the tone for the organization.
That’s assuming you know how to run a meeting and that your team members know how to communicate effectively with one another. You can set yourself and your team up for success by following the tips above and incorporating the Poised communication coach. Learn more about how our software is empowering executive teams everywhere!