I speak from personal experience when I say that business meetings are not as important as the majority of people tend to think. At least most of the business meetings that those same people have are not. Of course, getting your team together from time to time with a good reason is essential, but a lot of people overdo it and wonder why productivity decreases. Fortunately, I realized all of that early on before making huge mistakes. Here are some of the things that I found work when it comes to having successful business meetings:
Make it fun
A business meeting shouldn't turn into a joke of course, and people must always stay on track, but that doesn't mean you should become a lecturer. One of the mistakes I used to make is to constantly talk for almost the whole duration of the meeting. And it wasn't interesting at all. People got bored really quickly and when this happens you lose all hope of any productivity. It's okay to let your people take the lead and participate in a discussion. It's also okay to crack a joke every once in a while.
Distractions can really ruin a meeting in no time. This was one of the biggest problems that I encountered whenever I and my team had to get together. Many people don't have the problem with boredom mentioned above. Instead they have the exact opposite problem - too much fun or too many distractions. When people get into a discussion they often tend to forget what the topic of discussion is exactly and they start talking about irrelevant things. If you don't remind them what they should be focusing on as soon as you notice that this is happening, your business meeting will quickly start going downhill.
In some meetings, there are people who talk a lot and people who stay quiet the whole time. I realized that it was my job as an employer and leader of the team to engage everyone in discussion. Just because somebody is quiet and not very talkative, doesn't mean that they have nothing valuable to say. Sometimes people are just shy or unsure whether their ideas are actually good or not. Ask people to participate when you see that they are reluctant to do so and get everyone's opinion. After all, you are paying for their time, so you might as well use it.
Make your meetings shorter
My biggest enemy used to be boredom as mentioned above. You should realize that boredom inevitably leads to frustration if the meetings you have are longer than necessary or you prolong them unexpectedly. When this happens, the only thought in people's mind is when it is all going to be over. This decreases productivity to almost 0%. The best thing to do is to have short meetings. 30 to 40 minutes is considered a good start, but you can successfully shorten them even more.
Finally, don't be reluctant to use technology. It could be your best friend, especially when it comes to preparing for a meeting. Pronestor, for example, has developed some incredibly helpful solutions for business leaders, which make organizing and preparing for meetings as easy as possible.