You can't guarantee that every meeting you attend will be as productive as those you lead yourself. But even if you can't distribute a well-organized agenda and facilitate a constructive discussion, there are other things you can do to make the outcome of less-than-optimally organized meetings worthwhile. For example:Stay involved. While it may be tempting to withdraw from proceedings that seem headed nowhere, your participation may be exactly what's needed to turn things around. Ask questions. Offer constructive feedback. Remember that as part of the group, your behavior has an important influence on the overall dynamics of the meeting.
Arrange follow-ups. It's likely that at any meeting you'll wind up with a few tasks assigned to you. Don't let the steps ahead lead nowhere. Before you leave the meeting room, make sure you know what actions you need to take and which are most important.
Set time limits. Determine when those steps need to be taken. Otherwise, you may never get around to them—and it's when nothing gets done that meetings become meaningless.
Track progress. At the next meeting, find a moment to discuss how far you've come in completing the tasks assigned at the previous gathering. If appropriate, seek insights about getting over roadblocks. Or let colleagues know how you and your team have managed a particular success.