To Run a Good Meeting, Get the Basics Right

Plenty of meetings are a waste of time. They’re unfocused, badly run, and way too long. But improving your meetings isn’t rocket science — work on getting the basics right. When planning a meeting, know why you are scheduling it in the first place. Having a specific goal in mind will help you create a useful agenda. Next, decide who truly needs to be there, considering the key decision makers, influencers, and stakeholders. If certain people should be in the loop but don’t need to attend, you can ask for their input beforehand and update them afterward. Open the meeting by clearly laying out its purpose and focusing people on the task at hand. As the facilitator, your role is to get attendees to feel committed to the outcome. When the meeting is over, take a few minutes to reflect. Did everyone participate? Were people distracted? What worked well, and what didn’t? Use your reflections (ask others for their thoughts, too) to keep improving for next time.

Running a meeting? Don’t miss out on the fundamentals. People often complain that they go to too many meetings where nothing gets accomplished. There are no agendas, people speak off topic and are distracted by social media. Have a desired outcome for your meetings – know what you want to get out of the meeting. Know also whether this is a regular check in meeting where you meet for a few minutes or a long strategic offsite that will take more time. Make sure you get the right people there – the right people doesn’t mean everyone. A good agenda will help you stay focused. Have someone scribe, someone facilitate and someone keep notes. At the end of the meeting take a few minutes and evaluate its success. Don’t forget the ground rules which can include turning off phones and devices that can distract!

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