Once you have a handle on systematizing your meetings, it’s just as important to be productive during the meetings. This is where leading productive meetings becomes an art because there is a fine balance between sticking to a structure and creating a space for everyone to be heard.
Many meetings today have little to no format causing participants to leave confused on their next steps and missing key deliverables and goals.
Here are some simple ways to get to create an environment where topics get covered, decisions are made, and your team is heard:
- List your meeting objectives on your agenda. Objectives communicate to attendees the outcome of your meeting. It also helps you to redirect the conversation if attendees veer off topic.
- Use action words to describe each objective, like discuss, review or negotiate. Action verbs serve as indicators on how to prepare for the meeting and provide direction for the conversation.
- Set times for each agenda item. When you identify the timeframes for each topic, it helps to focus the discussion, keeping run-on conversations to a minimum.
- Assigned a person’s name to each topic. When you assign a person’s name to each topic, that person is responsible for reporting out on that topic. This gives your team member a heads up on what they need to prepare for the meeting.
- Build in short breaks. If the meeting will last longer than an hour, you may need a short break. Build it into the Agenda as you would any other topic.
One of the most critical, but often forgotten principles to setting up successful meetings is to distribute your agenda in advance. The lead time depends on the type of meeting you’re scheduling. You can even send out a draft agenda asking if there is anyone who would like to add any topics.
In some cases, sending an agenda a week ahead works to finalize the agenda; for other meetings, two days is sufficient. If you’re unsure, ask the group for a consensus and make the lead time a meeting standard.
When you use these tips and start and end the meeting on time you create a meeting standard that boosts productivity and successful engagement. People are excited to be part of a climate that is active, focused, and visionary.
Whether you’re meeting with a prospect, a client or your own team, commit to keeping your meetings on task and on time and watch as your profitability also increases.