Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

One way to engage your employees is to run efficient meetings.

QUESTION: What’s worse than a meeting that lasts too long?
ANSWER: A meeting that lasts too long and doesn’t accomplish anything!

If you’re running a staff meeting, winging it may work if it’s a pizza party. But if you want to engage your employees in solutions, and getting things done, your ability to be well-prepared to facilitate an efficient and productive meeting is crucial. A few key considerations if you’re looking to upgrade the efficiency of your meetings:

Establish an objective for the meeting and communicate the objective to the participants before the meeting is held. If processes call for consensus around the objective, build in the time or process to establish and communicate the objective, prior to the meeting.
Prepare an agenda and distribute it ahead of time. If circumstances offer the chance for meeting participants to add to the agenda, ask for contributions by a particular date. A few of the most important factors when using an agenda include: the agenda’s support of the meeting objective; the feasibility of covering topics within their allotted time (you may want to assign a timekeeper); and a respect for following the agenda during the meeting.
Create a visible “park list” where issues that may be raised, outside of the agenda focus, can be noted for further discussion at another time (park list = for later, or off-line discussion).
Leave the meeting with all participants having clear expectations about next steps (i.e., Who is doing what, and by when?). Have someone scribe the action plans, the name of the person or team who is responsible for each action item, and the target date for completion for each item.
Recap and document action plans, with assigned names, and distribute to the participants within 48 hours after the meeting.
Use the action plan document as your guide for a status update at the onset of your next meeting.

These recommendations are not a cure-all for ineffective meetings. However, your consistent use of them will provide the framework to support your efforts to increase—and build your team’s trust in—meeting efficiencies.


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