Running Meetings Effectively

A recurring problem that many people have is running meetings effectively – that is, where the meetings in hindsight are not deemed a waste of time – for any of the participants. This can be quite problematic, as different people coming to a meeting will often have different objectives, and reaching everyone’s objective in a single meeting can seem to be an impossible task.

However, clearly some people manage to run meetings effectively, or at least in such a way that people leave those meetings with a sense of accomplishment. The tricks include some of the points below:

  1. Make sure the right people are invited to the meeting – that is, every person who needs to be there is present, and those who do not need to be there are not invited. It’s not an insult – it’s about respecting everyone’s time and energy.
  2. Have an agenda, and stick to it – if you want to accomplish something at a meeting, make sure everyone knows what it is you’re trying to accomplish, and stay on topic. If other items come up during the meeting, put them aside and deal with them later.
  3. Keep it short, ideally no longer than 45 minutes – after about 45 minutes, people’s attention begins to wander. If it seems likely that the meeting will last longer, break it into multiple shorter meetings, perhaps with fewer people at each meeting.
  4. Avoid touching base meetings – this can be handled more effectively via email, and does not really serve any useful purpose other than to take people away from doing productive work.

If you have a suggestion or idea about how to keep meetings on track, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!