Deirdre Moore | November 2015

5 Tips for More Productive Meetings

Meetings, productive meetings.  Sometimes it feels like half of our lives are spent attending meetings.  And nothing is more aggravating then attending a meeting that feels completely disorganized and/or unproductive.  Lately, I have found myself in the position of being the person to create the agendas and run the meetings – not something I have a ton of experience doing.  Running a productive meetings may not be arts integration, but it certainly can be an art!  Here are some pointers on things I have discovered make a productive meetings less painful drudgery and more pleasant productivity.

1. Transition.

Teachers are busy, hard-working people who often don’t even have time to have lunch.  If you want to help them be ready to be productive team members you might try one (or all) of these:
a. Have music playing as people come in.  It can help change the mood.
b. Have snacks.  Most people need a little pick me up in the afternoon.
c. Have an opening activity/icebreaker.  Even if it’s just a quick “turn to your neighbor and tell them about your day” it may help folks leave the rest of the day behind and focus on the agenda.

2. Agenda.

It may seem obvious but having an agenda that is sent out ahead of time gives all participants an idea of what the meeting will be about and gives the productive meetings structure.
a. An agenda is crucial if participants are expected to do something in preparation for the productive meetings.
b. Using an agenda template allows for predictability as well as structure and makes sure all steps are followed every time.

3. Objectives.

Just like a good lesson plan, clearly stated objectives can help keep participants focused and on point.  They also help measure the productivity of the meeting.

4. Roles. 

I’ll bet when you have students do small group work in your classrooms you make sure the participants have a role to play in the group.  I feel this works just as well with adults.  If the group meets regularly, having set roles allows the team to get right to work and stay on track.
a. Recorder.  This is the secretary tasked with taking accurate notes and sending the minutes out to all the participants after the productive meetings.
b. Time Keeper.  If this group tends to stray from the task at hand, it’s great to have one person charged with reminding everyone that the group is nearly out of time to finish a piece of the agenda.  This will also help the facilitator keep things on track.
c. Facilitator.  A good facilitator makes sure all participants have a voice and keeps the whole group focused on the task at hand so the entire agenda can be covered.  Sometimes conversations taking on a life of their own can be great because they can generate really useful new ideas. However, some conversations can lead down an unproductive path and the facilitator should be someone who can help gently curb those conversations.

5. Wrap-Up.

There are a few components to a good wrap-up that make people feel good about the meeting that you just had and ready for the next one.
a. Action steps.  These need to be clearly articulated in the minutes.  Every member needs to know exactly what it is s/he needs to do after the meeting.  Be sure all are clear on who is doing what action and by what time.
b. Tabled items.  If any piece of the agenda was not covered that needs to be noted so it can be placed on the agenda for next time.
c. Objectives.  The wrap-up is the time to revisit the stated objectives.  If they were reached, yay!  It is time for all members to congratulate themselves on a job well done.  This can help people leave the meeting feeling like it was time well spent.  If any of the objectives were not met, this is the time to be sure the team values the objective and to plan how the objective may be met in the interim or at the next meeting.  If you are like me, knowing there is a plan in place is reassuring.

May these 5 tips help you at your next meeting and may all your meetings be fruitful!

About the Author

Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.