Business meetings tend to have a reputation for being wastes of time. Most people don't feel a single bit of guilt when they subtly play a game of Angry Birds during the meeting or figure out what they should pick up from the grocery on the way home. And if your business meetings are like this, then you need to question why you're having the meetings or what you can do to improve them.
For corporations and LLCs, Indiana law requires you to have at least one business meeting with formal minutes every year. You have to make reports in some cases, demonstrating to the state that you are fulfilling the requirements of your business's formation. But even if you aren't required by law to have business meetings, they can be beneficial because they can allow you to gain valuable insight into the workings of your business as well as additional ideas and conflict resolution. That means that you'll need to take steps to streamline the meeting process and make it as painless as possible.
Respect Everyone's Time
Your first step should be to respect everyone's time. Whether you are the sole proprietor or a CEO, you must respect all of your employees', partners', and contractors' time. Time is one of the most valuable resources any person has, so make sure that you don't make the meetings take longer than necessary.
Part of respecting other peoples' time also requires that you have a clear purpose for the meeting and you share those objectives and purposes with the others who will be attending. It may even be beneficial to provide an anticipated agenda for all the topics you want to cover before the meeting starts. This way all of the members can prepare for the conversation topics rather than responding on the spur of the moment.
Allow Actual Contribution
People sometimes zone out of meetings because they feel that their opinions don't matter. So your first step is to make it clear that you do want their contribution. Yet since you have to maintain control of the meeting, you will also want to make sure that you are clear what you want from everyone and how you want them to go about it.
Avoid Rabbit Trails
When you do allow people to participate in the conversation and the resolutions, you have to realize that some people will sometimes go off on rabbit trails. Keep a tight rein on the conversation. Make sure that all of it is as relevant as possible. Some chitchat and minor digressions are natural, but watch out for chatty members who might derail the meeting and set it off down an uninteresting and unproductive conversation trail.
Remember You Can Call Another
Unless there's a compelling reason that you have to resolve all of the issues in a single meeting, remember that you can always set up another meeting to finish the conversations. Your meetings should get done within a reasonable period of time. Try not to keep people over time, particularly if you know that they have other time commitments.