People spend a lot of time in meetings, whether it be at work or for activities outside of work.  I read an article recently indicating many people feel HALF of their meeting time is unproductive!  I was surprised by this so I checked the Internet and found two more articles that supported the numbers.  No wonder people are frustrated with meetings!  Planning an effective meeting doesn’t come naturally to everyone.  While I feel the people I work with do a good job, I have found the meetings I attend outside of work could use some improvement.

Here are five planning tips to help you plan a more productive meeting:

  1. Prepare an agenda with the meeting objectives and send it out ahead of time.  This gives people an opportunity to prepare.  This should be the meeting leader’s job but don’t be afraid to suggest it even if you are not the meeting leader.  You may even want to consider if a meeting is even necessary. An e-mail or some phones calls may be all that is needed. 
  2. Address details like the room setup, handouts, and any AV equipment  needed in advance.  Send people a reminder about the meeting  – don’t give them an excuse to forget.
  3. Start on time and end on time.  People who show up on time should not have to wait for those who are late.  I know one area that I need to improve on is always thinking I need to “catch” people up when they are late.  The people who were on time don’t want to hear everything repeated a second or third time. One way to encourage people to be on time is to have the last person take the notes.  You can pass the note pad to the late comers and they can look over the notes already taken to catch up.  Stick to the agenda and make sure things end on time.
  4. Encourage everyone to share their ideas.   There are reasons you invited each person and sometimes a few people dominate a meeting. It’s the leader’s job to make sure everyone is comfortable speaking out.
  5. You should ask someone to take notes or take them yourself. Quickly recap the meeting action items at the end as well as send out a summary of what was agreed on, who will do what, and the deadlines for accomplishing the tasks.  I try to do this as soon as possible so I don’t forget something.  Ask for feedback on anything you may have missed and on the meeting itself so you can plan even better next time.

Running an effective meeting is more than sending out a notice that you will meet at a particular time. Everyone has time constraints and people will be more willing to help if they know the meeting will be productive and well organized.  With proper planning anyone can develop the skill of running an effective meeting.   I’d like to hear about any ideas you have for a planning and conduting a great meeting.

2 responses to “Five Tips for More Productive Meetings”

  1. 2 suggestions:
    Make sure the right people are at the meeting. An unproductive meeting can result from too many people at the meeting, as well as missing a key person – that usually means a firm decision cannot be made.
    Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself a question – can the issue be resolved by email? Some single topic meetings may be overkill.

  2. Several tips to help make your meetings as productive as they can be: Have a clear purpose, Start meetings on time, Put important items at the top, close the meeting then ask for feedback.

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