Anatomy of a productive meeting

I happened to be a participant in a rather unproductive meeting for the past
two days.  Forgive me—I feel very prepared to write this e-zine to warn all
those well meaning, unsuspecting souls who are running, planning or just
participating in such meetings.
Here are the rules that I wish had been
followed in the meeting that I was at yesterday to have a productive

  1. Start with the end in mind

Of course everyone knows why you are having this meeting, nobody’s that
clueless. However, does everybody or even the organizers of the meeting have a
crystal clear idea of exactly what they want to walk away with from this
meeting? For a meeting to be productive, you need to have a concrete picture of
what you need to get from this meeting. This is a shift from “I need more
efficiency from this process” to “I need a list of actionable items to address
x, y, z issues.”

  1. Invite the right people

Meetings can become playgrounds for egos and showmen.  Don’t allow yours to
become a stage for corporate posturing.  Instead, invite only the pertinent key
stakeholders who will be ensuring implementation and follow up.  Having key
decision makers who are going to make an actual difference to the outcome of the
meeting and influence business results is crucial.

  1. Have a moderator with clear control and ownership of meeting

The person who has called the meeting needs to have a clear understanding and
authority over at least the process and content of the meeting. He or she might
have to step in at times and course-correct the meeting flow or calm ruffled
feathers.  This moderator’s strength of ownership in the meeting’s outcome needs
to be demonstrated to its fullest extent for a meeting to be productive. For
example the moderator may need to be the lead in deciding the category of issues
or the process for the meeting. Somebody has to be clearly in charge, even if
that final decision is made as a result of discussions and attempted group
consensus. If there’s no lead and no consensus, the meeting productivity is
drastically limited.

  1. Have a set process for what you want to get out of the

Depending on the meeting objective, there are different best practices to
reach the end in mind. Having a predetermined and proven process of how you will
get to your end objective will guide your group into a smooth transition from
one discussion area into the other.  A pre-defined process will ensure that you
meet your set objectives every time.  For example, a process for an issue
meeting could look something like this:

  • Presentation of issues analysis
  • Agreement and categorization of issues
  • Brainstorming solutions against the issues
  • Vetting solutions for viability
  • Next steps and accountabilities list

5.  Do your homework before the meeting
If any analysis is required for key areas of the discussion, make sure that you have
pertinent analysis and data to introduce into the meeting so that the meeting
itself isn’t spent on second guessing what the true issues are. For example, we
knew going into yesterday’s meeting that a certain procedure was the biggest
hurdle in the entire launch process but struggled to understand what could be
done about the delays because no prior analysis had been done on the specifics
of the procedure. The meeting was a big failure for people who were dependent on
that very issue being resolved.
6. Establish accountabilities

In this day and age of performance reviews; we feel that each person in the
meeting will know to do their job as it pertains to the decisions of the
meeting. However, this often is not the case.  The meeting and its decisions are
firmly forgotten the very next week. In order to have a truly effective meeting,
assign accountability to each decision made in the meeting.  For example, if X
step that was committed to by Greg isn’t completed in the committed timeline, he
will have to report each variance with reasons at the end of the quarter for the
whole group.  It sounds almost childish to do this but holding people
accountable yields results while lofty ambitious to-do lists just linger in
meeting notes and memories.
I hope these tips will help you reach your peak potentials in meeting
productivity and cut down on the time and resources in getting to the end you
had in mind.
With kindness as always,


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About Chala

Chala Dincoy is a Marketing Strategist who helps B2B service providers reposition their marketing message to successfully sell to corporate clients