Improperly conducted meetings can be a waste of company time and money, but it is possible to  avoid them through proper planning and effective facilitative leadership. A professional facilitator training program can offer tools and tips in conducting productive meetings.  

Meetings are often the most dreaded part of a work day, seen as a waste of time with no results produced or goals met while languishing in a conference room for an hour. Poorly executed meetings not only affect overall team performance and morale, but can be a drain on the budget, and ultimately influence the company’s bottom line. Learning how to properly plan and conduct meetings can improve a company’s performance. A quality facilitator training program can teach how to properly conduct productive meetings.

Understanding Potential Influences

Imagine that you’re back in grade school. The classroom is stifling hot, the kid two seats over is tapping his pencil on the desk in a steady beat, a fluorescent bulb is flickering, and your monotone teacher is reading aloud from your textbook. It is clearly the perfect time to let your mind wander into a daydream. The bell rings sometime after, and you realize that you have no idea what your homework is.
As adults, we can still get as distracted as we were back in that overheated room. A project facilitator should realize the importance of considering all of the external influences that can affect the outcome of a meeting. Begin preparing twenty minutes before the scheduled meeting time by making sure that the environment is as comfortable as possible. Check the room temperature and make sure that seating is available for all participants. Double check that all electronics are working properly and that you have available to you any printed materials, charts, or other tools that you may need.
Sometimes, it can be internal influences that derail a meeting. Your attendees may be distracted by a recent event or news, and it is sometimes best to address this at the beginning of the meeting to encourage your team to focus on the task at hand. This could include recent layoffs, the resignation of a company official, or other internal news. If you find that you are not up to par the day of the meeting due to illness or another concern, it may be best to see if another facilitator is available to conduct the meeting.

Participant Guidelines
It is important to have an understanding of how key participants will work together to conduct a successful meeting. Key roles, such as facilitator, timekeeper, recorder, and participants should be assigned before the meeting. Each person should understand the scope of their duties within the meeting. Ground rules should also be decided to help control the meeting and to help minimize disruptions, conflicts, and distractions.
Uh, Where Were We?
Sometimes a meeting can become stalled, and the discussion can stray into areas that do not fit within the agenda. When this happens, it is imperative that the facilitator regain control. This can be accomplished in several different ways, such as restating the topic or question being addressed, taking a short break, or suggesting an activity that brings a solution. A run-away meeting can be unproductive, and should be avoided.
It is important for you to provide effective facilitative leadership by using all of the tools available to you. This will help you conduct a productive meeting that reaches useful conclusions with clear cut expectations. Professional facilitator training can provide you with all the tools that you need to conduct successful meetings that produce great results.