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How can I run tighter, more focused meetings with outcomes I can count on?

Do you find yourself at meetings that start late and run on and on, veer off topic frequently, avoid making much needed decisions, and conclude without a clear sense of what’s next? Meetings like these are wasteful and expensive, and can benefit quickly from proven approaches that deliver outcomes you can count on.

Meetings are the most common organizational tool used by leaders and managers. Why do meetings so often fail to deliver?

Our research identifies four reasons why meetings fail to deliver: absence of an agenda; lack of preparation; attendees arriving late; and discussions straying off topic. Meetings that chronically fail to deliver are more than just unproductive. Attendees become demoralized, motivation slumps, precious time is wasted, and production lags. This is an ongoing expense few organizations can afford.

Well-run meetings deliver because they are well run and deliver!

It’s no secret what makes meetings deliver: attendees share responsibility for how their meetings are run and what gets done. They make agreements about “ways we prefer” to maximize sharing of information and decision-making, reduce diversions, and deliver solid results. Brief evaluations at the end of meetings and thirty minute “tune-ups” every six months allow for necessary adjustments.

Getting to the real agenda: Five tips for tighter, more focused and productive meetings.

  1. Plan the meeting. Think through outcomes, both “what” and “how.” Contact those who need to be present to ensure their attendance. Remind those giving reports to stay focused and within allotted timeframes.
  2. Send the agenda and necessary documents in advance with enough time for attendees to prepare. For each agenda item suggest an allotment of time. At the beginning of the meeting, review the agenda and ask if items and suggested timeframes need adjusting.
  3. Encourage everyone to follow agreements team has created to guide how meetings are to run. Starting and ending on time is an important way to model how serious you are about honoring the team’s agreements.
  4. Enlist others (perhaps on a rotation basis) to keep time, take notes, etc., to free you up to be fully attentive as facilitator.
  5. At the end of the meeting, do a two-minute review. Ask and record responses to: What contributed to our being productive? What detracted and needs to be changed?

Download examples of meeting guidelines, Ways We Prefer to Meet Together at our Resources Publications page.

To inquire about additional tools and strategies to improve your meetings, contact us now.