5 Tips for a Productive Meeting

1.Keep it Short

Everyone has been in a meeting that dragged on for over two hours. Your eyes start to glaze over and everyone’s minds start wandering to the next items on their “to-do” list. There is a “point-of-no-return” in every meeting – usually past the hour mark. Very little productivity happens after people start zoning out. Try to keep your meeting short and to the point so everyone can move on with their day. Thirty minutes to an hour should be satisfactory. If not, consider spreading the meetings out or offering a break in the middle so everyone can refresh.

2.Set an Agenda Beforehand

The best way to keep your meeting succinct is to plan it out beforehand. Ask yourself, “What is this meeting for?” Set a goal and stick to it. If you don’t know what the meeting is for and what you want to get out of it, chances are, no one else does either.

3.Keep it Interactive

Give everyone a chance to speak. Sometimes the quietest people in the room have the best ideas. This is something you will have to feel out in your unique environment, but sometimes going around the circle and letting every person submit an opinion or idea can get the conversation started. Giving everyone a chance to voice their ideas helps maintain energy and focus. If one person drones on for a 20-minute stretch, they might not be heard.

4.Create an Action Plan

The purpose of every meeting should involve follow up tasks. Now that you’ve laid out the purpose in your agenda and discussed your options, set an action plan for moving forward. Decide what tasks need to happen, the timeline for those tasks and who is assigned to which pieces. Having a great meeting full of amazing ideas can be very exciting, but if follow up actions are not assigned to specific people with specific timelines they may never happen. This is the time to figure out how and when things will be accomplished.

5.Take Notes and Send a Summary

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes people zone out during meetings. If a lot of information is being covered, or maybe they didn’t get enough sleep the night before, details are easily missed. The best way to keep everyone on the same page (and protect yourself from a “well, this is what I remember from the meeting” conversation two weeks down the road) send out a summary of the meeting details including the original goal for the meeting, discussion points, and your action plan. Include the discussed timelines and assignments for each individual person. This helps hold everyone accountable and on the right track. If you are running the meeting, it is advisable to ask an administrator or staff member outside of the meeting to step in and take notes so you can focus on the task at hand.

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