Tips For Conducting A Productive Meeting

April 6, 2021

The term “productive meeting” is synonymous with making decisions quickly and efficiently, while following the direction set forth by the attendees.

However, to have a productive meeting, the participants need to be clear on what the outcomes are.

Otherwise, you could end up in a meeting that never gets anywhere, because the participants have no idea what the real outcome should be.

In an interesting study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, participants in a boring meeting were significantly less engaged and more bored than participants in a more engaging meeting.

However, it is still important to design the meeting in a way that you can make decisions quickly and efficiently. To that end, I have gathered five tips for conducting a productive meeting.

1. Exclude distractions and keep focus

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In a recent paper published in Administrative Science Quarterly, two researchers surveyed participants in a boring meeting and found that participants paid much more attention to their tasks and work than their surroundings.

That’s why you should keep distractions and interruptions to a minimum.

When in the meeting, limit your tasks and spend most of your time engaged with the people in the room.

If you do have a distraction, step away from it, and return to the task at hand.

When meeting, be sure to avoid distraction. Not only will your focus be tested, but there is a risk that you may miss important information.

Avoid using the internet, as you may miss important information. Just to be safe, make sure your phone is turned off or in airplane mode when in the meeting.

2. Be consistent

Every time you make a decision, write down your reasons for doing so, no matter what the outcome.

In one study published in the American Sociological Review, participants were asked to write down their reasons for participating in a survey and then to do the same thing a few days later.

Those who had written down their reasons for participating in the study more regularly were significantly more likely to be involved in a study a few days later, even if they had less interest in the study.

This study provides strong evidence that making decisions is important, but making consistent decisions is also important.

Consistency helps you become more consistent in all your decisions, not just those that affect you.

3. Provide structure

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In addition to making consistent decisions, you should also provide some structure for the meeting, such as defining who is going to be leading the discussion and who will be responding to participants’ questions.

If your meeting follows a predictable structure, you can be much more successful in keeping participants engaged.

4. Establish a clear agenda

The majority of meetings are not run productively. This is partly because participants don’t know what the goal of the meeting is.

And, partly because the meeting agenda is not communicated clearly. You can avoid this by having a specific agenda.

A common agenda involves defining the next steps to take or goals to achieve.

Without a clear agenda, you are unable to provide your participants with the relevant information and they won’t be able to identify where they need to go.

In one study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, participants’ likelihood to say yes to questions was significantly increased when they were given an agenda.

5. Make it clear what is expected of participants

Another strategy you can use to make your meeting more productive is to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

You need to provide as much clarity as possible so that everyone is on the same page. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Often, people will know more about your meeting’s expectations than you do.

People who are not involved in the meeting, such as members of the research team, can usually provide better guidance than you can.

6. Anticipate difficult situations

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Even the most productive meetings run into obstacles occasionally.

By anticipating some of the potential pitfalls, you can minimize the chances of this happening.

For example, if there is a risk that participants will disagree, talk about it ahead of time.

If there is a risk that participants will have to leave the meeting, help them by including the agenda in the meeting minutes.

If participants feel that the agenda was not given to them well enough, tell them you have sent them one.

7. Look for the humor

Humor and satire are effective tools to make difficult situations more bearable.

For example, this study showed that if participants knew that they would be joking with a fellow participant at some point during the meeting, they felt more engaged and less upset after the meeting.

In addition to making your meetings more engaging, humor can also make it easier for you to be open and honest.

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