We have all been stuck in terrible, unproductive meetings. The discussion rambles on, and people constantly move off topic. The agenda is unclear. The meeting comes to a close without clear action items and assignments of responsibility. How can we improve meetings? We have all heard the typical advice. Set a clear agenda. Distribute key documents for review in advance of the meeting. Select the attendees carefully. And so on...
Today, though, I read one piece of advice that I think bears emphasizing here. Inc.'s Laura Garnett recently interviewed Dave Kashen, co-founder MeetingHero, a startup that has developed a cloud-based meeting tool. Kashen offered several tips of making meetings more productive. I found one tip a bit different than the usual advice, and I'm going to apply it in my own work:
During the meeting, periodically summarize the discussion.
Kashen's suggestion: "Great facilitators instinctively do this. They stop every now and then to let people know where they are in the process and what has happened so far. This helps to ensure everyone is on the same page (and makes it easier to resolve inconsistencies if not), and frees people up to focus on the next part of the conversation. We realized that this function can largely be served by allowing the group, or a designated notetaker, to create a real-time meeting summary as it's going. That way the whole group knows where they are, and the summary can be sent out immediately after the meeting instead of someone having to go back through a set of notes and remember what happened."