Productive Meetings

How to make your meeting productive

Before meetings

  1. Meetings should be scheduled regularly, same day, time, and place. Cancel unnecessary meetings
  2. Determine specific objectives for meetings in advance (to inform, analyze, decide, coordinate, delegate...)
  3. Prepare and distribute the agenda in advance (include with written meeting announcement or reminder- or post the agenda in an area where all members will see it). Have a copy of the agenda and any other handouts for each member at the meeting.
  4. Determine time limits for agenda items.
  5. Determine in advance who needs to be at the meeting; inform (or remind) individual participants if they are expected to make a report or presentation of any kind at a meeting, indicate the time limits they shoud observe.
  6. Let everyone know in advance how long the meeting will last. (Remember Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time available. And Parkinson's second law: Other things being equal, time will be spent on items to be discussed in reverse relation to their importance.)
  7. In so far as possible select a meeting time that is both convenient and strategic in terms of work in progress, availability of needed information, resource people, etc.
  8. Apply similar criteria in determining meeting site; don't choose a place that is too comfortable. Choose a setting that will be conducive to the meeting.
  9. Arrange for any audiovisuals you might need (flipchart, overhead projector, etc...)
  10. Be prepared - Gather all the important facts needed for the committee to make decisions. Know what you are going to be talking about.
  11. Practice - Run through you r mind the different aspects of the meeting. What will you say? How will you respond? Draw upon your experiences at past meetings, whether you were the leader or not.

During Meetings

  1. Begin meeting on the time whether everyone is there or not (don't penalize those arriving on time and reward latee comers by waiting for them). Don't repeat everything that had been said before the late comer came in, ask them to stay after the meeting to discuss what had been said. Have agendas and handouts at the door or at each chair, so you will not be interrupted.
  2. Don't waste time on unnecessary rituals such as reading minutes. Distribute or post copies in advance.
  3. Announce or establish time limits for potentially lengthy agenda items (apportion time in accordance to importance of items).
  4. Start with and stick to the agenda; do not let people drift off onto other subjects, or tangents.
  5. Prevent interruptions, private conversations, and other distractions.
  6. Summarize progress and remind participants of time limits when necessary.
  7. Listen to opinions and encourage individuals to speak up
  8. Do not monopolize the discussion.
  9. Do not allow arguments.
  10. Accomplish purposes; restate conclusions.
  11. Clarify assignments, giving specific information about expectations and deadlines.
  12. Act confident --- Members look up to you, so play the part. Your attitude and feelings are communicated to the group through your actions.
  13. Finish on time (Respect the plans of those whoassumed the meeting would be concluded at a specified time). Finish up on a positive note.
  14. Evaluate the meeting. What could you do to improve the meeting?

After meetings

  1. Minutes should consist of clear statements of conclusions reached, action taken, and assignments made. Distribute a copy to all members as soon as possible following the meeting.
  2. Follow up with individuals responsible for specific tasks, at a reasonable time in advance of the deadline. Do they have the necessary information and skills to complete the tasks? Do not nag.

In General

  1. Be assertive in asking members who are consistently late to meetings, waste the group's time during meetings, or fail to carry through on assigned takss to change their pattern of behaviour or resign from the group.
  2. Speak clearly, be confident and enthusiastic.
  3. Talk your members language - use terms they understand

Leadership Tips 12/88. For more information on organizational and personal development skills or University policies regarding organizations, stop by or call the Office of the Student Center and Leadership Activities (829-6034)