Meetings have many purposes. One of the purposes is to get a decision made about something so people can move forward in their work.
Yet, few would say that meetings produce decisions. Many, if not most, people will tell you the vast majority of meetings are a complete waste of time.
They don't have to be. If you want a decision made as an outcome from a meeting, you'll need to do some work.
Know what decision needs making
This is obvious, right? But how many times have you walked into a meeting knowing what decision was going to be asked of you before the meeting was over? Half the time you don't even get an agenda, much less the decision to be made.
Only have decision makers in the meeting
Meetings have extraneous participants who don't have a good reason for being there. They are there simply so they can "know what is going on" or they participated in one meeting where they were needed but still are on the invite list.
Don't have people in a meeting unless their presence is needed to make the decision you are looking to make.
Know each participant's position before the meeting
You can do well on many fronts, but blow this one and you end up walking into a meeting and have the potential to get totally blind-sided. Going to each of the decision makers and finding out their position before a decision needs making gives you the ability to see what potential pitfalls there are to get to a decision. Plus you can see outlines of where compromises could be made.
Offer a decision to attack before making the decision
Test this statement: it is hard to create something from nothing; easy to attack what is right in front of you. Decisions are like that. They are tough to come up with from many different people in a meeting room; especially if the decision is more than Choice A versus Choice B.
So put a decision out there. Two things will happen after the attacking begins. First, you'll get 80% of what you want for the decision out of the room because you came up with it. And, second, you'll get a better decision because the attacks will show what needs improving.
Assign Next Actions from the decision
Once you get a decision, take that delicious moment and assign the "next actions" from the decisions to the people needing to carry out the work. Getting a decision is hard enough -- but many a decision is blown up when not accompanied by assignment of the work from the decision.
Work effectively, not with delaying until the next meeting
Getting a decision out of a meeting is highly productive work -- work that isn't done right very often. By following these principles, I've found it much easier to get a decision resulting from a meeting.
How have you gotten people to a decision in a meeting?