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October 30, 2013

Keep Meetings on Track

In order for meetings to be productive, it is important that they stay on track. Despite this, meetings often end up far from their purpose. Here are some tips for keeping meetings moving in the right direction when they veer off track.Flight Cancelled Sign

  • Stop the conversation and clarify the purpose of the meeting. Refer to the agenda with a comment like this: “This conversation doesn’t seem to be on-topic. Let’s check to see if we need to pursue it now.” If not, say something like, “Let’s focus on the purpose for the meeting and make a note to follow up on that topic.”
  • Make sure the discussion of each topic is concluded before moving to the next item on the agenda. Use a statement like this, “Unless someone has a final comment, let’s move on to the next topic.” Note that by asking for a “final comment,” you haven’t opened the item up for additional discussion.
  • If the meeting keeps wandering off track, stop and re-assess what’s going on. Ask the group why everyone is having trouble sticking to the agenda. Summarize what they say and decide if it is necessary to amend the agenda. Ask for suggestions about moving forward.

While having an agenda and following it keeps a meeting moving in the right direction, meetings can still go off track for all kinds of reasons. Don’t delay taking action when this happens. Step up and figure out what needs to happen to produce the results you need. For more meeting tools, see my blog post Meeting Tips.


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