The Rules of Keeping Business Meetings Productive

Keeping conference meetings productive is difficult in today’s age. We’re already distracted by so many things: our phones, daily conversations, and normal business interruptions. Don’t get us wrong–there’s nothing wrong with a few chats, distractions, and a little fun during a meeting but staying on track is key to make sure you complete important business tasks. Follow these set of rules to keep you and your team on track at your next meeting.

Set an Agenda and Follow It

Easier said than done, but setting an agenda and sticking to it can allow much more productivity than you might imagine. An agenda promotes quick meetings that are also on track. All meeting should have a clear focus about what will be discussed. A meeting that lacks an agenda is a waste of time.

Send the Agenda Out to Staff

If you’re planning on introducing a proposal or discussing an important issue, send out the agenda to staff. Ideally, the agenda should be sent out each time you have a meeting. This allows the staff to also keep on track during the meeting and avoid any interruptions. Additionally, those who cannot attend will still receive a copy of what was discussed at the meeting.

Limit the Meeting to a Time

Whether it’s a half hour or an hour long meeting, your staff should be able to count on getting back to their work as soon as the meeting comes to a close. Setting a time limit also helps with planning out a productive agenda.

Don’t Engage in Non-Productive Behavior

There’s no rule that says you can’t incorporate some fun into your meetings, but you should avoid personal attacks, interrupting while others are speaking, or dominating the discussion. Allow others to include their thoughts and partake in the meeting. Avoid any behavior that could distract from the overall goal of the meeting.

Show Up to Meetings On Time

Supervisors or meeting leaders should also follow this rule to a T. It’s important that all members are on time to a meeting. If you’re going to be late, inform others in advance or as soon as you can and have someone fill in for you for the time being to take notes. Meetings can start right on time if all staff members are present when they say they will be. When people show up to meetings late, it causes distractions.

Focus on One Speaker at a Time

To keep the meeting on track, focus on one speaker at a time. Make sure the staff avoids side conversations and interruptions. You don’t need a talking stick to make sure one person talks at a time. It’s simply polite to allow one speaker at a time and focus on listening to that person.

About the Author: James is a guest contributor from the MSU Executive MBA Program, helping professionals improve their business skills and further advance their careers.

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