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Q. How do you ensure meetings are efficient and productive, without consuming too much time?

“Providing meeting agendas, limiting the number of participants and agreeing on next steps and action items is my winning trifecta to ensure meetings are efficient and productive. Clearly defined agendas communicate the purpose and goal of the meeting, so participants can be prepared. Limiting participants to key stakeholders will help ensure that the discussion does not get convoluted or sidetracked. Finally, always end your meetings with agreed-upon next steps and a review of any assigned action items.”

Tracy Sanger

Senior Project Manager

Network Center Inc.


Efficient and productive meetings are key to communication in an organization. At Lake Area Tech, we employ the following techniques to maximize the use of time:

  1. Communicate the purpose in advance, intentionally choose invitees and dedicate a specific amount of time. These components are often communicated within the shared calendar invite to avoid miscommunication.
  2. Naturally, related issues arise in discussion. It is essential to write down these issues and schedule separate time to discuss with the appropriate group rather than taking up time in the meeting when the issue typically does not impact all attendees.
  3. Online task management software assists with identifying and tracking progress on the most important issues facing the committee.
  4. Documenting meeting outcomes through minutes allows participants to quickly and accurately disseminate the information to other key stakeholders after the meeting.

Diane Stiles

Vice President

Lake Area Technical Institute

Watertown, South Dakota

Always create an agenda to keep your meeting on point. Distribute it no later than the day before so attendees can come prepared. It’s important to be respectful of people’s time by defining the start and end time. Also, make sure you have the decision-makers in attendance. Throughout the meeting, stay on point and stick to the agenda. Avoid meeting disruptors by asking attendees to put away their mobile phones. Lastly, be sure to recap the meeting within 24 hours and detail the decisions and action items to move your initiatives forward.

Michael Toy

Chief Operating and Strategy Officer

First International Bank & Trust


Essentia Health uses an efficient and effective tactic called the huddle. A huddle is regularly dedicated daily or weekly time with those who work closely together to discuss changes or improvement in their daily work. Huddles are routine, include many stakeholders, and last no more than 15 minutes. Most importantly, huddles occur where work is being done, and not in a meeting room. The goal of the huddle is to take the pulse of activities happening that day or the coming week. It provides a time for the whole team to be “in the know” and promotes transparency.

Rob Cunningham

Senior Vice President of Operations

Essentia Health-West


As professionals, meetings may feel like necessary evils. It is important that proper organization takes place prior to the meeting. I recommend clearly identifying the goals you wish to achieve. This will help you structure a meaningful and detailed agenda to send to attendees in advance. This allows attendees time to prepare and understand expectations before the meeting even begins. Sticking to the agenda, however, is sometimes the most challenging aspect. Be sure to reference the agenda often, table items that aren’t resolved in the allotted time, and assign follow-up actions for outstanding issues.

Darcy Volk

Vice President of Process and Systems