Tips for more productive meetings

February 21, 2011

In the business world, having meetings is crucial to staying organized and keeping your team up to speed. However, if meetings are unproductive, they end-up wasting everyone’s time. Worse yet, many of your employees will drag their feet about attending future meetings and, as a result, not approach them with the appropriate attitudes or vigor.

To maximize your next meeting, take some time and plan an outline of what you want to accomplish and then share it with any and all attendees. Not only will this be well received by all, but it could also mean the difference between an effective meeting versus one that was a complete waste of time.

To help ensure that you and your employees get the most out of your next meeting, here are a few tips:

Decide if you even need a meeting. The purpose of a meeting is to exchange ideas, knowledge and, of course, come to a conclusion on the next step or steps to something you are discussing. That being said, before you arrange a meeting, decide if an e-mail or brief report can do the job. Not only will scaling back meetings help cut down on wasted time, but it will also make the meetings you have seem more necessary.


Prepare objectives for the meeting. You cannot hold an effective meeting if you do not know its purpose. Your objectives need to be focused — not overly specific, but not too broad, either. Try writing down phrases that require endings. For example: “By the end of the meeting, I want the group to …” Whatever you decide to end with will constitute an objective. Repeat this as necessary.

Provide an agenda for the meeting. If you want to get the most out of a meeting, you need to provide your employees an agenda that includes a brief description of the objectives, the topics and who will be expected to speak about what. Send the agenda via memo or e-mail at least sixty to ninety minutes before a scheduled meeting so your employees have time to familiarize themselves with it. Even better, send it out a day or more before the meeting so people can prepare in advance.

Take notes and mark action items. Everyone who attends a meeting should come equipped with paper, a highlighter and a writing tool. No one should be sitting and passively listening during a meeting. You and your employees need to engage in meetings by taking notes and marking down action items, especially if they are pertinent or include a specific, assigned task.

Summarize the meeting at the end. At the conclusion of the meeting, go around the group and have each employee provide a summary of what you covered and what their action items are. Obviously, this is why it is important to come to meetings prepared to take notes (Tip #4). Ending with a summary helps ensure no one missed anything during the meeting and serves as one final reminder about the priorities discussed.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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