Many business meetings seem to be populated with people who derail and prolong discussion and who then wonder why nothing ever gets accomplished. Dealing with these offenders requires playing a strong offense, rather than relying on defense. Good meetings don't just happen. They must be actively planned for and managed.
Before the Meeting:
1. Set goals
Whether it is a standalone session, weekly or monthly review, or one in a series covering an ongoing project decide what you want to accomplish.
2. Prepare an agenda
Ask key players if they have agenda items so that you can plan the meeting content appropriately. If urgent items mean that your meeting may be hijacked or diverted, revise your meeting goals and plan another session.
3. Send out the agenda before the meeting
Provide background information that participants need in order to engage in productive discussion. Give specific instructions on actions that participants need to take before arriving at your session—ask them to brainstorm ideas on a certain topic, gather information for presentation, or send reports for review.
During the Meeting:
4. Start on time
Explain the ground rules for discussion—limiting times on certain topics if needed—and remind participants of your desire to keep the meeting short but productive.
5. Identify those topics that need further discussion in another meeting
Interject that you or someone you nominate will plan a smaller-group session to explore these issues.