Question: What’s the difference between a meeting that just takes up time and a meeting that makes good use of time? Answer: An actionable agenda that is simultaneously relevant, realistic, organized and tangible. Actionable agendas don't just "happen" - you have to make them happen - using strategic thinking, proactive planning and consistent standards. Read on to learn how it's done.
Labels aside, what makes a meeting “productive”? To be called productive, a meeting must be necessary, it must serve a purpose, it must deliver a result, and it must be an effective use of everyone's time. On the flip side, what makes a meeting less than productive? Non productive meetings are generally those that either fail to produce a meaningful result, or take more time than should be necessary considering the results produced. Further, non-productive meetings are often characterized by conflict, confusion, lack of preparation, and a lack of participant engagement.
In other words, non productive meetings are something to avoid. And, since meetings are a fact of life – why not make them as productive as possible? Obviously, we all want that, but as always, productivity comes at a price. You must be willing and able to invest appropriate time, effort and energy into pre-meeting planning and agenda development. The key is to find a simple way to achieve meeting productivity with minimal “pre-meeting” overhead. And, at the end of the day, this process begins and ends with the meeting agenda (how it is developed, produced and then executed).
As can be expected, the best way to ensure “actionable agendas” and productive meetings is to employ a standardized process for meeting planning and agenda development – one that breaks the effort down into “building blocks” that can be readily adapted and applied. In short, this process boils down to the following steps:
This process is detailed further below, starting with some basic planning definitions.
Before that question can be answered, you must step back and ask “what is a meeting agenda”? At the broadest level, meeting agendas are roadmaps for how meetings will be conducted. Agendas establish the topics to be covered and issues to be addressed, organized into a logical sequence, suited for discussion and/or presentation, and carried out in a set period of time.
If these questions can be answered in the affirmative, you have the makings of an actionable agenda, ready for a productive meeting.
It takes two types of “templates” to prepare an actionable meeting agenda. One is the “physical kind”, used to document agenda (the agenda deliverable) and the other is the “logical kind”, providing a “plug and play” process for agenda development.
Whether you need to “meet” for planning, brainstorming, decision making or presentation purposes, one thing is clear – you need an actionable agenda that is suitably relevant, realistic, organized and tangible. And you need a way to create each and every agenda that saves time and produces consistent results. That’s the best way to achieve meeting productivity – to maximize time spent and minimize time wasted.
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