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. 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:
Note: You may also find the following "meeting related" articles of interest:
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.
#1 Relevant: The agenda must be sufficiently relevant to and aligned with the established meeting purpose For example, if the purpose of the meeting is to make one or more decisions, the agenda must be crafted to ensure that all required information is conveyed and that appropriate discussion can take place.
#2 Realistic: The agenda must be achievable, considering the meeting purpose, time available, participants and overall project status. For example, it is neither productive or actionable to plan a 3 hour agenda when only 1 hour is available.
#3 Organized: The agenda must be properly organized to meet designated objectives, present required information, and conduct related discussions in a logical, orderly fashion - one that makes sense and provides clarity. Agendas must also be properly structured considering the time available for the meeting and the time required to realize desired meeting goals.
#4 Tangible: The meeting agenda must be produced in a tangible, useable format, for distribution to all participants in advance of the scheduled meeting date.
If these questions can be answered in the affirmative, you have the makings of an actionable agenda, ready for a productive meeting. Looking to learn more? See the agenda development process "illustrated" in our informative infographic: Recipe for a Productive Meeting Agenda.
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Strategic "project fast tracking" is a streamlined project management process, specifically used to overcome the most common types of project obstacles, including insufficient time, resource shortages, budgetary deficiencies and stakeholder conflicts.
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