Keeping meetings flowing and on topic can be tough. It is not an easy task. Here are some tips that I have used to help me make progress.
Create an agenda and stick to it
Nothing kills a meeting more than not having an agenda. And the better the agenda is, the better the meeting will flow. So make an agenda and stick to it. Put start times on each agenda items. Stick to the agendas. Move as quickly as you can without stifling conversation. Always press toward actionable results. Put agenda items that are off topic in “the parking lot”. This is a list of items that are deemed worthy of discussing but not at this time. Put the parking lot items on the agenda for next time.
Define the time frame and stick to it
Start on time and end on time. Leave a few flex minutes at the beginning for late starts. Some people have watches set a little different. Get in the habit of starting on time and do not retrace your conversations for those who arrive late. Restate the topic of discussion, but not the whole conversation. When the time for the meeting is reached, end the meeting. You can ask about going longer if the majority says that it is okay. If you go over, keep it short. Fifteen minutes at most.
Make sure all decisions are actionable
When you reach a conclusion, document the action that the decision triggers. Who will follow up? What is the next step?
Take ownership of the progress
The meeting will be as productive as you require it to be. If you allow people to just chat about things, then this will settle into the flow of the meeting. Keep people focused and on topic.
Have someone take minutes of the meetings. A meeting without minutes is not a meeting. Participants will soon forget what was discussed or get confused about the outcomes. Keep them short and to the point, but make sure that people know what was discussed.
Write it all down
When you reach agreement on a point, document that decision. Do this apart from the meeting minutes. This is beginnings of your CAD Standard. Each topic should get at least a paragraph or more. Each topic gets its full documentation. Everyone can review it and agree that it covers what is needed.