5 ways to have more productive meetings

February 11th, 2019

Non-productive meetings are a waste of time, energy and resource. I regularly hear complaints that meetings are too long, too frequent, unnecessary, and unproductive or are not relevant. And yet, poor meetings continue to happen.

Perhaps now is the time to stop accepting the status quo and change how you hold your meetings. After all, even good meetings have room for improvement. Having a small change can make a difference, here are my top 5 tips.

Who’s in Charge?

Meetings can’t run themselves; someone needs to be in charge. I’m not talking about control and command here, but rather about someone being responsible for ensuring a successful meeting outcome. The meeting chair needs to ensure that everyone sticks to the rules, there is equal participation and the meeting ends positively with action and commitment.

What are the rules?

For a meeting to be effective, everyone needs to know and understand the meeting rules. Every meeting should have guidelines that are respected by all attendees. If this works for sports teams, why not work teams too? Start by including everyone in a discussion about what good meetings look like and agree rules to support such a meeting. For example if starting on time is important to everyone, agree rules that will honour and support good timekeeping.

 Where is the freshest thinking?

Too often a small number of people dominate meetings and the ideas and opinions of everyone else are lost in the noise. Giving everyone an equal opportunity to speak and be heard encourages fresh thinking with new ideas and solutions. It also increases understanding between people and builds trust. Creating a climate of equal contribution won’t just happen, but is well worth the effort.

What is the purpose?

If the purpose of the meeting isn’t clear, it’s unlikely a successful meeting outcome can be achieved. Knowing what the meeting is about, allows attendees to arrive prepared and focused on achieving a specific outcome. Presenting the agenda items as questions makes it easier for everyone to focus on accomplishing a solution.

And the end?

Just as a story has a beginning, middle and an end, so too should a meeting. A strong beginning sets the scene and confirms expectations. When the meeting closes, everyone should be clear on what has been agreed and who is responsible for which actions. End the meeting on a positive note by showing appreciation of each person’s value and contribution.

What do have you done to improve your meetings? Talk to us and find out how to create a culture of productive meetings.

Jenny Johnson, CDI London Coach