How to Make Your Meetings Productive

Bad meetings are as painful as good meetings are productive. How do you make sure that your meetings are the latter, that people are checked-in, not checked-out, and that they’re bringing their A-game?
Here are three ways:
1) Ground Rules
Everyone in a meeting needs to understand the Ground Rules (or in the case of a team that meets regularly, the Team Norms). Everyone needs to know what is expected of them to ensure a productive meeting.
Here are four Ground Rules I like, although you can come up with Ground Rules that best serve your group.

1.    Be 100% present

–      multitasking means “dabbling”; save the distractions for breaks

2.    Be intensely curious

–      constructively question what, why, and how

3.    Be kind and respectful

–      we can professionally disagree, but to “win” we have to be one team

4.    Give us your best!

–      don’t coast; show us how good you are

2) Meeting Objectives
Don’t have a meeting unless you’re clear on the objectives of the meeting. Is it to share information and gain feedback? Is it to evaluate options? Is it to make decisions? Once you’re clear on the objectives, document them and review them at the start of the meeting.
3) Agenda Questions
Have a documented agenda (with the Meeting Objectives at the top) and pose each agenda item as a question. Instead of “Ground Rules,” have, “How will we ensure we have a successful meeting?” Instead of “Product quality,” have, “How will we determine the root causes to our product quality issues?” Instead of “Two potential acquisitions,” have, “Are either of our acquisition targets worth pursuing?”
Posing agenda items as questions makes clear what needs to be answered or accomplished with each agenda item.
Meetings can be painful or productive. It’s a choice. Apply these three practices and make your meetings productive.
Make it happen.
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