Tips to Run a Productive Meeting
Updated: Oct 16
Meetings are often the most powerful tools available to us for engaging teams, communicating agendas and collecting feedback. Many big business decisions start and finish in meetings and more often than not great success can stem out of an idea or production value laid down through a meeting room agenda.
This is why running a productive meeting is the key to success for many. So here is some top tips for creating a productive atmosphere.
Some Top Tips:
“Meetings are never by chance.” ― Anthony T. Hincks
Find the agenda beforehand
Rough targets on topic points in discussions rarely finish on a productive goal. If no agenda has been set so far, start by listing out the points you want to hit in the discussion and make sure any material created from this, is given out to attendees at least one day before attending the meeting. For better results, provide background information on the agenda so that everyone attending has the same information. This allows delegates to bring there own perspective, with a rough understanding of the points to be made. This often allows ideas to grow through different lenses form the get go.
If you are attending a meeting with a agenda, why not ask for one? this often prompts key points to be delivered and allows you to prepare ahead.
And if you frequently hold meetings on a project, you can save time by creating a agenda template. Once you have that in place, preparing an agenda becomes a matter of filling in the blanks and makes weekly meetings more effective.
Time management is key
Keeping track of the time is an important part of any event organised.. When nobody takes control of time management, it is easy to become unfocused and unproductive. Try starting the meeting on time and ending on time. You will quickly enhance your reputation as an organised person. If you are running a complex meeting, consider asking a colleague to assist you in keeping the time controlled, whether that is through chairing the discussions or physical tracking of the time. Also by Keeping to meeting agendas is a key part of this, often sidelining discussions with agenda not planned for can leads to poor time management. Focus on key meeting points and if you find extra time, use this to address any sidelined subjects.
Park off topic discussions
At the start of the meeting, explain to your delegates what you expect everyone to focus their discussions on, with the agenda clearly shown to each. Explain to them that any topics that veer away from this agenda will be put on in the "Parking Lot" where topics not required for the main agenda are followed up on, either at the end of the meeting (if theirs time!) or at a later date. This enables productivity to flow, where you are able to ensure the points you wanted to hit are discussed and prioritized. Its important to note, if you do not hit the follow up stage right, you will lose your reputation for being an effective chair of a meeting, with delegates believing any points outside of agendas are not worth bringing up.
The key reason to take notes in a meeting is to record any questions or assignments that have been directed to you. But there are some key points to consider with this.
Stay off your phones! Take notes in a paper notebook rather than using a pc, tablet or other device. Even if you have fantastic abilities to focus on the meeting, other people can assume that you are “catching up on emails” or Whats app, instead of paying attention to their discussion, especially if they are trying to challenge something. if you plan to send minutes or a summary of the meeting to attendees, say this at the start of the meeting and explain what you will include. Sending out meeting minutes, even a few paragraphs or bullet points, is a best practice. Maybe consider a note taking separate to you, as this allows for dedicated focus on delegates as they raise ideas or suggestions and avoids any bias with meeting minutes.
This is so key to enabling desolates to get there say, even if they couldn't discuss any off top points. By following up on meetings, you demonstrate the importance of peoples opinions, points and challenges and this leads to better a more dynamic team based atmosphere. This often creates an agile team ethic, where points of view are accepted, shared and often bring more solutions to problems than closed discussions. When it comes to meeting tips, following up in a timely basis is a great way to manage stress and make a good impression on others. For the best results, I suggest following up the same day as the meeting. For very important matters, make a note on your calendar or task management system of choice to continue following up until you reach a resolution.