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Keeping meetings productive and on topic

From: Leading Productive Meetings

Video: Keeping meetings productive and on topic

To keep meetings moving smoothly and on time, it's very important that we keep the meeting on topic. Keeping the meeting on topic is not just the meeting leader's responsibility; it's every attendee's responsibility. However, the leader is the one who will most likely need to make small corrections if people get off course. It's natural that occasionally a meeting will drift off topic or off course. When that happens, just follow a few simple tips to bring things back on topic.

Keeping meetings productive and on topic

To keep meetings moving smoothly and on time, it's very important that we keep the meeting on topic. Keeping the meeting on topic is not just the meeting leader's responsibility; it's every attendee's responsibility. However, the leader is the one who will most likely need to make small corrections if people get off course. It's natural that occasionally a meeting will drift off topic or off course. When that happens, just follow a few simple tips to bring things back on topic.

The first tip is that if someone gets off topic or is disruptive, avoid singling them out by name. Instead, direct your comments to the group as a whole. For instance, if someone starts to talk while it's another attendee's turn to speak, simply say, "let's all give Jonathan our full attention." Or if someone multitasks during the discussion, say, "let's all make sure we're not multitasking." A simple reminder to the group as a whole is usually enough, especially if you have established ground rules.

This leads me to my second suggestion: refer to the ground rules often. If an attendee does something that's keeping the meeting from being productive, again rather than singling them out or talking about their specific behavior, go back to the ground rules. For instance, if you feel that someone is holding back, you can refer to the ground rule by saying, "we've all agreed to be open and share our thoughts fully. Let's all speak candidly." And finally, to keep the meeting productive, use a timer rather than yourself to do the reminding.

Get a simple kitchen timer with a loud alarm. A loud alarm makes it easier for the timer to be the enforcer of the time budget, not the leader. If the timer buzzes and you're still speaking when your time is up, just quickly finish your sentence and then say "I'm done for now," and allow someone else to start speaking. If you're the leader and someone continues past the buzzer, just say "let's make sure that we give the next person their full time." Hopefully, everyone understands the ground rules and they'll be respectful of the time and they'll keep the meeting moving forward and productive.

Occasionally though, the leader will need to provide gentle reminders to keep everyone on track.

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This video is part of

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Leading Productive Meetings

35 video lessons · 20231 viewers

Dave Crenshaw
Author

 
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  1. 1m 32s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      29s
  2. 11m 33s
    1. Understanding the principles of successful meetings
      3m 56s
    2. Using technology
      2m 12s
    3. Meeting virtually (audio and video conferencing)
      2m 55s
    4. Understanding the importance of time management
      30s
    5. Deciding between group and one-to-one meetings
      2m 0s
  3. 22m 21s
    1. Determining whether a meeting is necessary
      2m 50s
    2. Scheduling the meeting
      3m 0s
    3. Establishing ground rules
      2m 50s
    4. Determining who is in charge
      3m 21s
    5. Having an agenda
      2m 50s
    6. Preparing development
      4m 30s
    7. Coming prepared
      3m 0s
  4. 26m 5s
    1. Budgeting time
      2m 32s
    2. Taking minutes
      2m 34s
    3. Opening
      2m 32s
    4. Presenting the development
      3m 38s
    5. Following up on commitments
      2m 24s
    6. Giving everyone a voice
      3m 32s
    7. Giving and taking feedback
      3m 14s
    8. Keeping meetings productive and on topic
      2m 27s
    9. Reviewing action items and closing the meeting
      2m 2s
    10. Reviewing minutes
      1m 10s
  5. 15m 39s
    1. Understanding the importance of the one-to-one
      2m 29s
    2. Deciding who to meet with in a one-to-one
      2m 50s
    3. Establishing a one-to-one schedule
      2m 44s
    4. Determining the one-to-one agenda
      1m 56s
    5. Listening effectively ("What do you need from me?")
      1m 36s
    6. Delegating effectively ("This is what I need from you.")
      2m 19s
    7. Reviewing action items and closing
      1m 45s
  6. 4m 12s
    1. Completing action items
      1m 16s
    2. Following up on action items delegated to others
      2m 6s
    3. Reassessing the effectiveness of meetings
      50s
  7. 49s
    1. Final thoughts
      49s

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