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9 things every Productive Meeting must have

June 6, 2011
  
I hate unproductive meetings.  There, I said it.  Anybody else feel the same way?  Of course you do.
Far too many meetings seem to be filled with people who hijack, or prolong it, and then wonder why nothing ever gets accomplished. Dealing with our ‘teammates’ requires a strong plan, making sure your meeting doesn’t head in the wrong direction. Good meetings don’t just happen; they are planned for, managed, and executed.   

Before the meeting:

 1. Set goals

What are we wanting to accomplish?  If need be, walk your participants through your thought process so they don’t have to figure it out.

2. Prepare an agenda

It doesn’t have to be lengthy or in great detail.  Have a 1 page agenda, so the high points will get covered.

3. Send out the agenda before the meeting

Do this to ensure your meeting participants are prepared to engage in productive discussions, and provide completions to open action items.

During the Meeting:

4. Start on time, and finish 5 minutes early to recap

Explain that your meetings have a set duration.  Going over is not an option, because there are probably other meetings that need to occur right after you.

5. Identify those topics that need further discussion

Once an issue has been decided to be taking too much time, or can’t be resolved during the meeting due to missing stakeholders or contributors, take it off-line to resolve.

6. Solicit appropriate behavior and responses

Your responses should encourage fresh ideas while avoiding off-topic rambling.  Ask for input from specific people who should have the most relevant insights to the problems being discussed.

After the Meeting:

7. Prepare, and distribute follow-up notes

Include action items required of participants. Reiterate specific assignments, with deliverables, with assignees, and with their due dates.

8. Encourage participants to ask questions

Respond promptly to any concerns, and give guidance as needed, further elaborating on your expectations for participation.

9. Clarify points of discussion as needed

If you discover that anyone was confused about decisions made or action steps after the meeting, promptly correct any wrong thinking. This approach will help avoid rehashing the same issues over and over again.

Meeting Disruptors:

I have found that these 3 types can, and will (if you let it) drag out meetings. Who are they you might ask?

The Storytellers – They share a story that has no bearing on the topic at hand.

The Unprepared – The ones who know what is going to be discussed, but somehow never complete anything, and also have no tangible progress to report.

The Complainers – These employees don’t like anything.

 Hopefully, this short article will give you some ideas on what to look out for so you can have a productive meeting.

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