Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Meeting Isn’t a Flop

ARCHIVES
Tsyhun/Shutterstock.com

Meeting agendas would appear on their surface to be fairly mundane, simple documents used out of habit and obligation. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an agenda as “a list of things to be considered or done.” So what is it about a good agenda that can actually make your meetings better? Here are four tips for creating a good agenda and why it’s worth it.

1. Be specific. Participants will be better prepared and engaged in the conversation if they have a solid understanding of what will be discussed and have some time to think about the topics ahead of time. This also suggests a best practice of sending meeting agenda out early. Make agenda items as specific as possible and utilize the “parking lot” concept -- documenting new and unrelated topics for future discussion -- to keep the meeting focused.

2. Assign timeframes to each agenda item/topic for discussion. Too often, entire meetings are spent discussing only one of several agenda items. By assigning timeframes to each agenda item, you keep the conversation on track and can identify topics that require further discussion without going over time or skipping items entirely. One technique to stay on track is to set a timer for each agenda item; when the timer goes off, wrap up that item and move on.

3. Include “Purpose” and “Outcomes” sections. Clearly define the point of the meeting and what you hope to achieve. Refer back to these sections during the meeting to stay focused. Does the conversation lend itself to the purpose of the meeting? Will it help achieve the stated outcomes? If not, put it in the “parking lot” and get the conversation moving in the right direction.

4. Include an “Action Items” section. Use this space to record actions that need to be taken, by whom, and by when. For example, if you commit to scheduling a follow-up meeting, record who is responsible for executing that task and a deadline by which they are to complete it. Be sure to make these action items available to all meeting participants after the meeting by email or file sharing, for example, to ensure that everyone knows who is responsible for what. Refer back to the action items at a later date or follow-on meeting to check that they have been completed or are in progress.

Implementing these tips can help alleviate the Groundhog Day effect -- seemingly having the same meeting over and over again with no tangible progress or results. Although there is a wide range of facilitation tactics that can be leveraged to improve your meetings, almost all meetings require agendas. These tips help ensure your participants are prepared, time is not wasted, the conversation is focused, and you are driving toward desired outcomes.

Be sure to check out “Running Better Meetings” on the Don’t Do That!TM video blog. In addition, agenda template resources are available on websites such as  www.mycommittee.com, www.meetingagenda.org and www.lessmeeting.com.

What tips or best practices do you use when creating meeting agendas or other documents?

Darcy Ziegler is a consultant with Corner Alliance Inc., which helps government leaders solve their most pressing problems. She has more than six years’ experience in strategic communications, program management, engagement and organizational development.

(Image via Tsyhun/Shutterstock.com)

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.