Unproductive office meetings drain almost $200 billion from the nation’s coffers each year.

Clearly, it is beneficial for companies and organizations (no matter how large or small they are) to conduct business meetings that further their goals and help them reach a new level of success and competence.

Running a productive meeting begins with having the right agenda and sticking to it. Creating and adhering to a viable meeting agenda is a skill that we teach in our facilitation training courses. Below are practical tips on exactly how to accomplish this at your next meeting.

Set Clear Objectives

Set clear objectives or goals that you want to achieve to have focused, successful meetings. If the goal is to assist the group in lead generation in order to reach the sales targets for the year, you will have to table the issue of efficient personnel management for another meeting. Avoid cramming several disparate and disjointed issues into one meeting. Some meeting planners see this as a way to save time, but in reality it merely results in long, disorganized and unproductive meetings.

Share the Agenda with Participants Before the Meeting

Make sure your attendees know what will be discussed, how much time will be allotted for each topic, the order in which each topic will be taken up, etc. A detailed, orderly and well-organized agenda will help make sure that everyone is on the same page – figuratively and quite literally. By sticking to the agenda it’s easy to identify (and table) side issues, as well as keep people’s contribution within the designated time limits.

Assign Roles

Your meeting participants will be more invested and involved in the meeting if they know you’re expecting them to contribute something significant to the proceeding. Brief them on the role/contribution you expect from them via email prior to the meeting and include their names and the specific topics they are to cover on the agenda. This will make their involvement ‘official’ and will likely lead to increased interest and participation on their part.

Examine the Process

Reserve the last five or 10 minutes of your meeting to review the process and include this in your agenda. Remind participants to phrase their observations in action-oriented terminology rather than personality-driven statements. “We should be more direct and to the point” is better than “So-and-so takes too long to get his/her point across.” Making this part of your agenda will ensure that your next meeting will go smoother and will be more productive.

Facilitating meetings efficiently and productively is an acquired skill. Our onsite facilitator training courses as well as our online facilitation training are both excellent ways to master the skills that are needed to conduct purposeful meetings. Our professional facilitators can also assist you with corporate facilitation and strategic planning.