We have all been there. Sat through a long, directionless meeting. Periodicially staring at the watch to see how much longer the meeting will take.
I have learned a few tricks that prevent unproductive meetings:
- Meeting Goals
I send an agenda of issues and questions to all meeting participants the day prior to the meeting. This reminds participants of the meeting and provides direction. All participants can prepare for the meeting because each person knows what to expect within the meeting. The meeting is not locked down to only the issues listed within the agenda. It is only a starting point for the meeting.
The meeting starts with the goals. Stated goals will drive the meeting. There is a purpose to the meeting and it is to meet the goal. If the meeting goes off onto a tangent and it looks like the goal will not be meet, the goal can be brought up to focus the meeting. Suggest that the digressive issues be addressed in a separate meeting.
The meeting also has a clearly defined time-box. Recurring meetings will usually have the same time-box so the set time does not need to be repeated at the beginning of each meeting. Time-boxing has proven to be essential. This allows topics to go off on a tangent, but ultimately, there is a goal to meet within a set time. I occasionally state the remaining time of the meeting to focus the meeting.