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Ineffective Discussions at Meetings

Ideas to increase the effectiveness of discussions at your meetings

Are you finding that the meetings you are leading have discussions that just seem to go nowhere? Are people not contributing to discussions, or maybe it is the same people contributing over and over again?

Here are some best practices to increase the effectiveness of discussions happening at your meetings:

  • Develop detailed agendas that include discussions that have to occur during the meeting and the expected or required outcome of those discussions (e.g., develop next steps, make a decision, etc.)
  • Reduce the number of discussions during any one meeting to ensure focus.
  • Ensure the right people will be at the meeting to participate in the discussion and enable for an outcome to be reached.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities for discussions: facilitator (to keep the discussion moving forward), notetaker (to keep track of what is being discussed, ideas, etc.), timekeeper, and a gatekeeper (to ensure that conversation is not monopolized and everyone is participating).
  • Ensure that next steps, an action plan, or a decision comes from the discussion based on what is needed/expected.
  • Ensure agreement on those next steps, action plan or decision.

By getting better control over discussions that need to happen at meetings, those discussions will be much more effective and an end result – whether an action plan, assigned next steps or a decision – comes from the discussion.

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