How to Conduct Productive Meetings

Meetings can be an opportunity to bring together a diverse group of workers to discuss plans for a project or improvements to a business. While meetings may offer opportunities, if they are not managed effectively, they can waste the time of the participants. Leaders can take steps to run a productive meeting by developing a clear plan and ensuring participants stay on task.


  1. The work of a leader begins before the participants gather at the meeting. Project or meeting leaders can develop materials for participants that define the purpose of the meeting, provide background information and set an agenda. Distributing the materials to meeting participants before the first session gives participants an opportunity to read the background information and prepare for the meeting. Leaders should choose a time for the meeting that is convenient for members of the team and establishes a strict time limit. The meeting should be long enough to accomplish the agenda items and short enough to keep the team focused.

Staying on Task

  1. During a project meeting, it is the responsibility of the leader to keep the team focused on the agenda. When conversations drift off topic, the leader must steer the team back to the agenda items. Meeting facilitators should keep an eye on the time allotted for each agenda topic, summarize the conversation and move on to the next item on the list.

Meeting Minutes

  1. A record of the meeting is an important tool that leaders can use to set the agenda for the next session. Facilitators should select a team member to take notes at the meeting and keep a list of the action items that must be accomplished, along with the individuals responsible for completing those tasks. The leader can prepare and distribute a summary of the meeting to all the participants before the next gathering. Members can use the minutes to prepare for the next meeting and ensure they complete their assignment.

Encourage Participation

  1. One of the benefits of a group meeting is the varied opinions and ideas that result. It is the leader's job to encourage participation by everyone in the meeting. Leaders can create an encouraging environment by setting some ground rules in advance. For example, the meeting leader can make it clear that interruptions or criticism will not be tolerated while a team member is speaking. Leaders can ask team members who have not spoken for their opinion.

Meeting Summary

  1. At the conclusion of the meeting, the leader should review the key points and ensure that all team members understand their action items. Leaders may set a tentative time for the next meeting and discuss any scheduling issues. A summary of the meeting, the minutes and a list of action items can be sent to all participants within a day or two of the meeting.