If you’ve been in your fair share of meetings that go off track, you’re not alone. In an HBR survey of 182 senior managers, 71 percent of respondents said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient. And we’re having more of them than ever. Research published in MIT Sloan Management Review suggests that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, and executives now spend an average of almost 23 hours per week in them – more than double the amount in the 1960s.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. With strong planning, you can have a productive, focused meeting – and it all starts with your agenda. Rather than just a timetable you’re obliged to fill in, an agenda is a powerful tool to make sure that all topics are relevant, that it’s clear what preparation is needed and that discussion is goal-oriented.