Best Practices for Conducting Productive Meetings

There is nothing more frustrating to me than attending meetings that lack preparation, structure, effective facilitation and follow up.

No matter whether you work for a large or small company, in the private or public sector, well-run meetings are essential.  Yet, I am not shocked to see that a variety of studies conducted over the years show that anywhere from 60% to 70% of executives surveyed said that meetings are unproductive, inefficient, and ineffective.  I would imagine that this figure increases as more meetings are conducted remotely.

Even though I have not had formal training in meeting management, I believe that I have valuable lessons to share after decades of evolving and improving upon the process.

Timing and Number of People

If possible, I would keep meetings to no more than 6 people and 30 to 60 minutes long.  This gives everyone the opportunity to contribute 5 to 10 minutes, respectively. Meetings should start and finish on time.  Personally, I like scheduling them in the mornings when most people are at their best.

Every meeting should have an agenda, a purpose (why are you having the meeting?), and a clearly defined objective.  The team leader should ensure that the meeting stays on track from a timing perspective as well as achieves the objective.

What makes a meeting effective?

Be thoughtful about whom you are including in your meeting.  Having the right people is as important as having the right amount of people. The discussion should be facilitated to make sure that everyone is engaged, contributing without hogging the conversation, and that people do not interrupt one another.  The leader or facilitator should also make sure that they create an environment where diverse perspectives are welcomed.

The best and most productive meetings I have attended are those where the leader shares information that must be reviewed prior to the meeting and then uses the meeting to work collaboratively to come up with solutions to a common challenge, make decisions, or create something new.

If the expectations are to have all participants fully engaged in a remote and collaborative discussion, then I would ask everyone to turn on their video.  If the meeting is in person then phones should be off the table!

Finally, PLEASE send out a meeting recap afterward.  Have someone take notes and highlight action items and next steps and make sure to include the date and time of your next meeting.

I, for one, am always on the lookout for other valuable tips on how to make meetings more productive. I hope these suggestions help you plan your next one.

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Lucia Ballas-Traynor
Lucia Ballas-Traynor
Lucia has more than 25 years’ experience in Hispanic media and has been at the helm of leading Hispanic media brands such as Univision's Galavision, MTV Tr3s and People en Español. Prior to launching her consulting business this year, Lucia was the EVP of Client Partnerships for Hemisphere Media Group, owner and operator of five leading Hispanic cable networks in the U.S. and Latin America. In this role, Lucia developed, set and implemented the Sales strategy across the company’s 5-network portfolio. Prior to joining Hemisphere in 2015, Lucia was co-founder and EVP of CafeMedia's MamásLatinas, a bilingual digital destination dedicated to connecting, entertaining and empowering Latina moms with a dynamic community and engaging editorial content. Lucia is a native of Chile. She is a graduate from New York University and lives with her husband and two children in Tarrytown, NY.

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