Leading Productive Meetings

If you ever wonder whether you’re having too many meetings, if your meetings are too long, or if they even accomplish anything, you’re not alone. Dave Crenshaw outlines a simple foundation to help you get the most out of your meetings in “Leading Productive Meetings.”

Crenshaw says that successful meetings are made up of six principles—purpose, time, agenda, preparation, focus and leadership.

Having a meeting leader ensures that the other five principles of productive meetings are followed. Meetings work best when there is a designated leader because the leader can assign a purpose for the meeting, maintain focus and productivity, uphold the established ground rules and determine the length of time for a meeting. A meeting leader can also set an agenda and make sure their colleagues come prepared to a meeting. 

The meeting leader can help with preparation but preparing for a meeting is ultimately each team member’s responsibility. All attendees should review agreed-upon action items from the last meeting, and bring any new materials for their meeting if necessary. To prepare for the meeting as a leader, Crenshaw suggests arriving before the meeting to make sure that the technology to be used in the meeting works.

Agendas for each meeting should follow a similar format, Crenshaw explains. There should be a welcome which includes a brief review of the agenda and meeting purpose, followed by attendee presentations or discussions according to the agenda that take up the remaining meeting time until approximately the last five minutes. The last five minutes, or more depending on the meeting, should be used as a review of the action items discussed in that meeting—what commitments participants made to complete specific tasks—and confirming the time and location of the next meeting.

Before you decide to hold a meeting, you need to decide its purpose. Is a meeting necessary? Do you have all the information you need for the meeting? Do you need to discuss and collaborate with your team or do you need to delegate and schedule something? Is it critical that each team member is on the same page? You’ll find that sometimes, what is said in a meeting can be as easily communicated in an email. 

The principles outlined in this course are a starting point to making meetings more successful.  It is the responsibility of the leader and the meeting participants to come focused and prepared, to follow the meeting’s agenda, to make the meeting productive, and to fulfill the purpose of the meeting.