How to Get Your Meetings Back on Track

Meetings are a standard part of business. When it is necessary to get your team together to brainstorm, strategize, or review performance, a meeting is the best way to go. Unfortunately, meetings can go off the rails in no time.

No matter how well you prepare, there is always the possibility for a meeting getting off track. If you have a lot of people in one room or conferencing over phone or video, it can be difficult to keep the meeting organized and manage different personalities. Keep reading for tips to get your meeting back on track!

Recognize that meetings can be unproductive

Even if you have successfully run or participated in meetings for years, it is important to remember that they can be unproductive. For business leaders who have not yet experienced a difficult meeting, it may seem unimportant to prepare for the possibility. Unfortunately, 30 to 50% of the hours professionals spend in meetings are unproductive.

Some people do other work during a meeting or simply daydream. Managers often feel that meetings keep them from more important work, so they do not devote their full attention to the task at hand. Knowing these problems exist is the first step in learning how to gain control of your meeting.

Train your leaders

Training leaders and managers, including yourself, on how to effectively lead a meeting is crucial for success. Only 20% of leaders receive training on running meetings, so they are often left without the tools they need to regain control of the room or handle different personalities. This training must involve more than just superficial tips on organizing and leading a meeting.

Organize a program or training opportunities for your leaders and managers to practice running meetings and handling a variety of situations. Have accountability partners sit in on meetings and provide feedback and coaching. Providing resources throughout your organization can help prepare your team members to face difficult or challenging meetings as they arise.

Address those who get off topic

If you are averse to conflict, addressing a disruption head-on can be a challenge. You do not want to further disrupt your meeting or embarrass a participant. However, it is important to address participants who get off topic or cause a disruption.

Use respectful but firm comments like, “I understand your point, but we do not have time to discuss that today,” or “Let’s put that idea on next week’s agenda to save time.” These sentiments are not confrontational or unprofessional, but they get the point across. You also show that you value someone’s opinion and plan to give it its proper due at another time.


While there are many tips and advice available for setting up a meeting and running it, there is little in the way of preparation for a derailed meeting. The truth is, the possibility is very real, and time is wasted in business meetings every day. By training your team to handle disruptions and learning how to address off-task or off-topic participants, you can get your meeting back on track and have a productive time

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