Meetings are testing grounds for leaders. This is where you can show your strengths and generate ideas. It can also be a time of boredom and frustration for meeting attendees. Fortunately, by following a few simple tips you can keep your meetings productive.

Here are some strategies to remember when running a meeting.

Have a Written Agenda

Meetings can feel unproductive when they get derailed. An attendee can bring up a related, but irrelevant topic and the discussion completely shifts gears. Now you’ve lost control of the room. Having a written agenda and sticking to it can fix this common meeting problem. Not only will you and attendees stay on track, you will also be able to make sure you get through every key point. You can also specify a certain number of minutes per topic. Doing so will keep your meeting running smoothly and keep your attendees interested throughout the meeting.  

Keep it Short

Let’s face it, no one wants to sit in on meetings for most of the day. Employees have other work tasks and, frankly, many consider meetings to be a tedious part of working life. To keep attendees engaged and happy throughout the meeting, keep it short. Keeping meetings under an hour is best for most topics. And once your specified time is up, let them go. Sticking to the agenda and ending the meeting at the specified time is a great way to show your attendees you respect their time.

Encourage Participation

Productive meetings take attendees’ viewpoints into consideration. People like to know their ideas are heard and allowing them the chance to do so is a great confidence building strategy. Encouraging participation also leads to better meeting outcomes. Attendees who have contributed their opinion are more confident in pursuing those goals once the meeting is over. It is important to be as inclusive as possible. If you notice there is someone who rarely speaks up in meetings, reach out to them beforehand and ask that they contribute their opinion. This way, they will have time to prepare.

Make an Action Plan

People can interpret the same conversation several different ways. The same holds true for meetings. While one attendee understands a certain task as having priority, another attendee might believe a different task is to be completed first. To minimize these types of misunderstandings, it is important to make an action plan and follow up. Make a list of key tasks and their priorities and send them out via email after the meeting has concluded.

Meetings don’t have to be inefficient. With a few preparations, you can run engaging and productive meetings that yield great results.