Dear Meeting Guru,

"How do we keep marketing meetings on track? We rarely have an opportunity to sit our entire marketing group down and when we do, we can't seem to keep to a set itinerary."

Calgary, AB

Blessed Meeter,

My first piece of advice is to create an agenda for each and every meeting. Be sure to distribute the agenda before the meeting begins. This way, everyone understands the objective of the meeting and the preparation necessary. The agenda also acts as a schedule for the meeting and outlines all of the topics that must be addressed.

Also, try this tip provided by an subscriber in St. Louis, "Save those good ideas without getting off track! When a great idea comes up in your next meeting that isn't directly related to the topic at hand, don't let it go. Instead, jot it down on the nearest whiteboard or flip chart. Select a title for the ideas written on the whiteboard, such as ‘The Parking Lot’ or ‘The Issue Bin.’ At the end of the meeting, address the ideas you've written only if you have time. If the ideas are worth addressing but you've run out of time, schedule another meeting to discuss them. Don't discuss these ‘parked’ ideas during the meeting or even between agenda topics. If you attempt to address them during the meeting, you will run overtime!"

Another idea is to schedule meetings that end either at lunch or at five o'clock. You'll be surprised how few people ramble when they want the meeting to finish on time.

When participants in my meetings get off track and start to ramble, I remind them of what the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "The superior man wishes to be slow in his speech and earnest in his conduct." In other words, think carefully before you speak. This way, discussions will be more focused and more likely to stay on track.

Until next time…may good meeting karma always be with you!

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.




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