Meetings… ugh! We all have them. In person face to face meetings. Zoom meetings, phone meetings, chat meetings. We are forever in meetings. And truly… some of them seem to run forever and others seem like a waste of time. So how can we make meetings better and more productive?

So first off let’s look at the issues… then three key steps to making meetings more productive. Here is what I encounter  and hear from others that are meeting “issues” (you may have others…)

  • Having to attend too many in a day to actually get anything done.
  • Attendees don’t come prepared.
  • There is no clear agenda.
  • Contributors are not felt heard.
  • Participants are not engaged.
  • No clear timing / timelines for different agenda items.
  • Conflicts amongst the attendees.
  • Failure to have clear next steps.

So here are three easy steps that I try and use to make meetings run better and more productively.

  • What is the purpose of the meeting / who is attending?

When the agenda is sent out, all who are attending / invited should be clearly identified (both in email cc and the actual agenda. It should outline what the goal(s) of the meeting are (one on one update, planning session, sales update, etc.) and timelines for the meeting and type of meet (in person, hybrid, Zoom)

  • A clear agenda circulated at least a day in advance that has start and stop times and topics for discussion.

Give people time to review so they can prepare. One reason people come unprepared is because they don’t know what to prepare for!! It should have a start time and finish time. Start on time, finish on time or early… never go overtime. Start on time, even if only one person is there. People will eventually learn to come on-time to your meetings. The agenda may also include appendices or support documents. Ensure all the information is shared that is needed.

  • What are the next steps and who is responsible for them!

This is critical. Every meeting should have “next steps” to be completed and who is responsible for them. It may be as simple as “John is responsible for setting  up a date for the next meeting by the end of the day tomorrow” or “Sally needs to revise and update the strategy document and recirculate by the end of the day Friday”. Be specific .

Hopefully these will help you to plan or participate better in meetings and make them more productive.

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