10 Tips for Productive Meetings

Management in organizations often entrusts a delegation of like-minded department members or community volunteers to support specific tasks to achieve an end result. As such team or committee meetings surrounding this work should be meaningful, containing elements of problem-solving, decision making, and accountability through reporting. Towards that end, they should be purposeful and participatory. 

Do you dread or look forward to team meetings? Do you ever find yourself saying, “what am I going to this meeting for? Nothing ever gets done.” Or it becomes a platform for one, strong-willed person to dominate and control what get’s on the agenda. 

Let’s take a look at some of the commonplace strategies and discern how or why this is may or may not be the case. On a scale from one to twelve, rate your ability (Do you have the knowledge, skills and resources) to accomplish these tasks. 0 = none; 12, means you’ve got all you need and you need no more. 

Then, rate the challenge or the difficulty to accomplish the task. 

0 = effortless; 12 = impossible




1. Chairing team meetings.   Ability____   Challenge _______

2. Assigning tasks to team members. Ability____   Challenge _______

3. Understanding my responsibilities. Ability____   Challenge _______

4. Holding myself accountable as a team member. Ability____   Challenge _______

5. Arriving on time for a meeting. Ability____   Challenge _______

6. Finishing meetings in a stated time period. Ability____   Challenge _______

7. Voicing my opinion in a team or committee meeting. Ability____   Challenge _______

8. Participating with my own personal agenda. Ability____   Challenge _______

9. Contributing adequate information for decision-making. Ability____   Challenge _______

10. Listening to the stated conversation with intention. Ability____   Challenge _______

Scored low on ability and high on the challenge? You need more training for the stated expectations and how you can best perform. Score “in the middle?” You go to meetings to appear responsible but are not a productive contributing member. Score high on ability and low on challenge? You know what needs to be done but no one is giving you a chance to do anything. You are bored to tears and would rather be elsewhere but are probably attending because your boss told you to or you consider it business development. Perhaps, with a little direction you might do more. 

Let’s reflect on each of these tasks. 

1. Know what’s expected. Chairing effective team or committee meetings only comes with a clear understanding of what the organization’s goals are and how the team fits into the big picture. For nonprofits, a chairman’s orientation should be provided, separate and apart from a committee orientation. It is the responsibility of the Chair to direct the conversation, to make assignments, to record or have recorded a set of action steps, and to hold members accountable for those assignments. Good Chairmen set the agendas after reviewing progress with the team or committee members and the staff liaison. 

2. Assign tasks evenly and appropriately. Every team should have a separate orientation with specific timelines, budgetary constraints and ultimate goals. Staff members should empower team or committee members to do their jobs. Competent staff values the contributions of volunteers and benefits from personal and team or committee self-growth during the process. 

3. Conduct a team or committee orientation. If a team or committee member misses said orientation, they should make arrangements to make-up that important conversation with the Chairman. The Chair should know the caliber of each and every team or committee member and what they have to contribute to the goals. 

4. Accept responsibility. Promise what you can deliver and deliver with that promise. If the time constraints are unrealistic, acknowledge that and either ask for more time or release yourself from that pledge. Don’t obligate yourself if you can’t be dependable. 

5. Start on time. Celebrate those people who have “followed the rules.” Yes, exceptions do happen. Allow yourself a few extra minutes for travel arrangements. Arriving late routinely is rude and inconsiderate. 

6. Finish on time. With a well-planned agenda and directed conversation, conscientious volunteers will make decisions or defer them until more information is received. 

7. Speak up purposefully. Would you prefer to be known as the person who talks a lot, or the person who is well respected for what they have to contribute? Ask enough questions so alternatives can be thoroughly discussed. Introduce best practices or investigate them if you want to learn more. 

8. Leave your personal agenda at the door. Your role is to do the team or committee’s work, not to foster your own business products and services. 

9. Plan, consider, decide, plan. Making rash conclusions is often more detrimental than beneficial. In providing adequate time for Murphy’s Law during initial planning sessions, all scenarios should have ample discussion before a consensus can be reached. 

10.Listen, listen, listen. When you cross the threshold into a team or committee meeting, your time belongs to that organization for the good of its constituents. Contribute with that intention in mind. Remember, your privilege to be included comes with the larger responsibility to achieve the organization’s goals. 

Focus on these words: purposeful, participatory, accountable, dependable, empowering. Are these words that describe your team or committee meetings or are they aspiring dreams? If your team or committee meetings are out of control or you need more assistance in using your organizations’ teams or committees effectively, contact kayte@bestprincipledsolutions.com

Best Principled Solutions LLC has worked with leaders in the small to mid-size market through moderating change management, succession and transition planning and programs such as Pride-Based Leadership (vs. Shame-Based), Accountability Clubs (ongoing coaching programs to effect corporate culture change) and Explorientations to Change. Kayte Connelly has been certified through the Institute for Productive Tension, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and the John Maxwell Program and continues to school. www.bestprincipledsolutions.com 484.769.2327