A bad meeting wastes everyone’s time, but a productive meeting can lead to action items and real progress. The difference between the two has to do with planning and following through on the specific concepts the meeting is supposed to tackle. Here is some advice to turn any meeting into a more productive gathering.
Create an Agenda
An agenda helps provide a road map for the meeting, and may even detail who should speak and what they plan to talk about. It acts like a summary of the meeting and it helps to keep everyone on track. It also reduces unnecessary talking points and contributes to a better discussion overall.
Set Strict Limits
If you can set a schedule and adhere to it, you’ll notice a bump in productivity almost immediately. Set a firm schedule for the meeting and remember to draft talking points as needed. Be prepared, as leader, to step in and cut the meeting short if it drifts off topic. Additionally, set follow up meetings when you encounter dilemmas you can’t handle within the meeting itself. Javier Loya CEO of OTC Global holdings, says that “a lot of time can be wasted on meetings if the leadership doesn’t step in and control the flow. Always have an agenda and set time limits for each person to speak.”
Every meeting should include or entail action items of some kind. Tasks help prioritize the discussion, and provide a context for the next meeting. You also help everyone identify their own priorities and set some designated expectations.
Allow for Hard Stops
The final piece of advice is to allow for hard stops in your meeting, meaning a time when everyone (or some members) need to leave. Everyone is operating on their own schedule. Javier Loya added that “A hard stop in the meeting allows your coworkers the chance to accomplish their goals while working on the tasks at hand.”