Run an Effective Meeting

Productive, valuable, and engaging meetings require a clear goal, an open dialog, and a strong leader. This will ensure that each meeting runs smoothly and effectively - saving you and your team members time and money!


  1. Make every meeting matter - or don't meet at all. Decide if a meeting is needed and invite only the necessary people. Massive amounts of valuable time are wasted simply because managers think that face-time is important, or because they've become accustomed to a particular routine. E-mails are usually sufficient to give your team an update or a status report. But if you need instant feedback from all participants, then e-mail will not be as efficient as a face-to-face meeting.
  2. Define goals and distribute agenda in advance. Create a structure for your meeting. Just stating the ideal result often inspires participants and makes meetings more productive. At the very least, it underscores a feature that every meeting needs: a goal. Before the meeting even begins, make sure everyone understands the objectives by writing an agenda.
  3. Own your meeting, take charge and keep your meeting moving forward. Good meetings are products of good leadership. Take charge and make it clear that you intend to keep the discussion timely, useful, and relevant. Show your colleagues that you respect their time by making sure a clock or timer is visible to all. Staying on topic is also key to maintaining a schedule. If the conversation runs off the rails, refocus the group by saying something like: "Interesting, but I don't think we're advancing our goals here. If I could, I'd like to return to the agenda."
  4. Get the constructive input you need from everyone present. Since the point of a meeting is two-way communication, it's crucial to get honest input from everyone. It's the meeting leader's responsibility to make sure everyone is heard. To build consensus or come to a group decision, avoid wearing your opinion on your sleeve; it's easy for a leader to stifle a discussion if everyone assumes the outcome is already determined. Avoid the temptation to dismiss ideas immediately — even when they're terrible.
  5. Close with an Action plan, try to make sure that everyone leaves knowing the next step. Also end the meeting by asking everyone whether they thought the meeting was useful and, if not, what could be done better next time. Do a followup debriefing on your own to improve your meeting techniques.
  6. Keep track of progress of things decided during the meeting. Also keep the group updated about the developments. This will help you in organizing the next meeting more effectively.
  7. Make sure that your meeting didn't happen in isolation by letting the right people know what was decided and what will happen next. It's easy to walk out of a meeting room, go back to your desk, and immediately forget every change, decision, and new idea that your group came up with. Make sure you have a system to keep track of what was decided and what assignments everyone agreed to take on so you can follow up and keep things moving, even if you don't send out complete meeting minutes.

Sample Minutes and Adgenda

Doc:Meeting Minutes,Meeting Agenda Email Template,Business Meeting Agenda


  • Make sure you start and finish the meeting on time.
  • Let all the participants give feedback without being embarrassed or insulted.
  • Prepare for your meeting, which is often forgotten by many.
  • An excellent tool for having a productive meeting is using "OARR": Objectives, Agenda, Roles & Responsibilities.
    • First, your meeting should have an Objective. If you are having a meeting to just impart information, don't waste people's time with a meeting. Send them a newsletter. The objective should have an active component and if possible, a product to show for it: "Determine the quarterly goals for the team". The agenda is a list of the topics you'll address to get to that objective, with a time limit to keep you on track.
    • For example:
      • Review the status of last quarter's goals (15 minutes)
      • Round-table suggestions for goals (20 minutes)
      • Pick top five goals (10 minutes), etc.
    • For Roles and Responsibilities, determine who is running the meeting, who is keeping notes, and who will assign actions/"to do" items resulting from the meeting.


  • Leaders need to know not only how to run a good meeting, but also when NOT to hold one.
  • Here are seven reasons why a meeting should be canceled or rescheduled:
    • A key member can't make it. Rescheduling is a pain, but it's worse to bring everyone together and not be able to do the work planned. If you need a key member's input, reschedule.
    • The agenda hasn't been distributed far enough in advance. People need time to prepare for the meeting, make suggestions and changes to the agenda, and get a sense of how much time each item will and ought to be allotted. They should receive the agenda at least 3 days in advance.
    • The purpose of the meeting isn't clear. When meetings are simply informational, participants feel and resent their time being wasted. Make it clear what is to be accomplished, why, how, and when.
    • The work could be done quicker or better in another format (e.g. e-mail or phone). Don't hold a meeting unless that's the only and best way to get the work done.
    • Reading materials haven't been distributed beforehand. Reading should be done on each individual's time, not group time.
    • The only available meeting space won't accommodate the group's technological needs. If material can't be presented convincingly or in its truest form, hold off until it can.
    • A recent event or finding has rendered the meeting's purpose/discussion moot.

Things You'll Need

  • Updates - If the flow of information is one way, send an e-mail instead.
  • Agenda and Goals
  • Timekeeper - Makes sure the meeting starts and stops on schedule, reminds facilitator when agenda items are going over their allotted time.
  • Note Taker - Records what was said and distributes minutes as needed.
  • Whiteboard Wrangler - Writes ideas on the whiteboard during brainstorming sessions, makes sure every idea is recorded, whether or not it seems promising at first glance

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