No matter your industry or profession, most corporate professionals are required to attend a meeting for some aspect of their job at one point or another. Whether that’s a standing appointment every week, month or quarter, it’s time blocked on your schedule—that you can’t typically miss.
While meetings are meant to be purposeful and productive, that’s not always the case. Meetings tend to get a bad rap if the individuals leading the meeting aren’t considerate of people’s time, are unprepared or overall don’t have an agenda.
For the Finance function, regular meetings are crucial on many levels. Whether the discussions surround data cleanup, the budget, AP, AR, month-end—or a myriad of other topics—the outcomes of those meetings can affect the business as a whole. So, it’s important to get the meetings right for everyone involved.
Brilliant has touched on this topic in the past, and I recently came across an article on CFO.com that covers how to hold effective meetings. The article goes into detail on the concept of conducting a “Level 10 Meeting.” For the purpose of this blog, I thought I’d share a few of those tips and some of my own in the 5 Ways to Conduct Effective Finance Team Meetings below.
1. Begin the meeting on time.
This should go without saying but starting the meeting at its scheduled time is crucial. If your meetings tend to start even a couple minutes late, it’s eating into the team member’s productivity. Therefore, set a new precedent by requesting that everyone arrive five minutes early so that you can begin promptly. If an employee is late, and you’ve already begun the discussion, they will realize that they’ve missed important information and will likely arrive earlier the next time. Starting on time can even allow you to end early—which will likely please your team. So, try not to wait for late arrivals or chat too long before the meeting begins.
2. Keep the electronics at bay.
It’s a good idea to request that the individuals in the meeting not bring any phones, laptops, iPads, or anything other electronic device to the meeting unless they are presenting information. These gadgets can be distracting. Having a rule to not have electronics in meetings is a great way to gain everyone’s attention. This allows for everyone to focus on the discussion and not check emails or social media.
3. Share an agenda.
Creating and distributing an agenda of what is going to be discussed ahead of the meeting is an excellent way for the participants to come prepared. It’s also a great way for you as the organizer to stay on topic and make sure that every area gets covered. You can even request that individuals submit topics they want to cover. That way everyone can gather their thoughts ahead of time or you can delegate different topics to different people who are attending. An agenda is sure to help and it can be useful when sending up follow-up notes.
4. Stay on topic.
It’s easy to go off on a tangent during meetings or begin casual conversation, however, in the interest of time and productivity try not to veer off topic too much. The meeting was scheduled for a reason to talk about certain topics or issues, so it’s best to keep it that way. This will make sure everyone is staying on task and everything on the agenda is getting discussed in the manner it was intended.
5. Discuss next steps.
So that everyone in the meeting is on the same page, it’s best to recap what was said and outline any activity steps that might be needed. Set a timeframe and delegate tasks to specific individuals. This will not only help productivity but will make the next meeting easier. And while you have everyone together, make sure to confirm the day and time of the next meeting. If there are any conflicts with someone’s schedule, you can address them at that time instead of over multiple emails. You can also just have a designated time every day, week, or month to meet so that everyone is aware.
What are some ways to conduct an effective finance team meeting? Share with us in the comments below!