Meeting to decide where to go for a trip, plan a hackathon, organize a seminar, plan a birthday party or simply a progress review meeting? 

Based on my experience in participating and leading many meetings, I’ve seen there’s a lot of time wasting that happens and most of the time, you end up not being able to achieve expected outcome. Here, I’ve done a small analysis on what ruins the productivity of a meeting.

Why meetings become unproductive
  1. Not defining a clear outcome for the meeting on what to achieve at the end of the meeting.
  2. Lack of planning and structure of meeting.
  3. Inviting participants who are not required to discussion process or decision making process.
  4. Doing unrelated work while in meeting (checking mails, discussing personal matters, cracking jokes and going along with it for longer durations).
  5. Off-track discussions.
  6. Remote participants are not engaging as expected due to lack of welcome by the physically located participants.

While reading on how to make meetings productive I came across this Harvard Business Reader – How to make an agenda for an effective meeting, that clearly defines rule set for productive and efficient meeting. Improving that, follows my thoughts on how to have a productive meeting to 1) Achieve expected outcomes 2) Save your time
Step 1 | Outcome : Answer for the question “why we need to have the meeting?”
  • Sit down and think why are you going to have the meeting? 
  • Do you already know  the outcome but you only need to verify it’s correct?
    • If so, you can simple shoot a mail to the group mail and check if all are agreeing. If not only you will need to have the meeting.
  • If having the meeting, answer the question “why we need to have the meeting?”

Step 2 | Outcome : Select topics to discuss at the meeting
  • If you know everything needed to discussed at the meeting, then go ahead and list down. Also best would be shoot a mail to the team, and seek input from them on what to be discussed at the meeting. (Make sure you give a deadline to submit their suggestions)
  • You or the leader should list down all the topics and only take the ones which are really required for the question “Why we need to have the meeting?”
Interested in checking out the rest of the steps? Check out the writer’s blog:

Written by Rashmika Navaratne