5 Ways to Make Meetings Better

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Mon, Sep 28 - 3:15 am EDT | 5 years ago by
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Recently I spent a few minutes with Anita Bruzzese, talking about how to make meetings better. I’d encourage you to check out Anita’s article as I’m not the only one who offered insights into how to make meetings better.

Of course, Anita didn’t use all of my suggestions (and I didn’t expect her to) so her editing is your gain :)

I spend over 25% of my work life in my meetings, and I’ve been to more than my share of good (and bad) meetings. There are some key things you can do and make YOUR meetings more meaningful.


Always have a written agenda and distribute it at least a day before the meetings. This gives all attendees the opportunity to prepare ahead of time, do any research, and ask any clarifying questions, BEFORE coming to the meeting.

Mark on the agenda who is mission critical, and who is optional, for the meeting, and reschedule if the mission critical attendees can’t attend a meeting (or if they don’t confirm their attendance 2 hours before the meeting. No meeting should happen without key decision makers present, or all you do is talk and don’t really DO anything. We use an asterisk (*) by key meeting attendees, and this works well.

Start on time/end on time – This is a pet peeve of mine. So many people show up late, or not at all, that we talk about “professional courtesy” like you’d give a college professor, 5 minutes late is okay for most folks, 10 minutes for executives. NOT OK! If you want to respect the folks that are on time for the meeting, start the meeting on time…and end the meeting on time so folks can make it to their next meeting on time. Even better: End 5 minutes early so folks can get to their next meeting on time.

Stick to the agenda – If it’s on the agenda, discuss it, and discuss it until a decision is made. If it’s not on the agenda, table it for the next meeting. Unprepared comments in a meeting, while they may seem useful, are often made without proper research or consultation of key decision makers.

Distribute meeting minutes (with action items) promptly – Before folks forget what was discussed, distribute the meeting minutes for all to review. Include non-attendees and others that need to be in the loop. Distribute within 1 day for max effectiveness.

What are YOUR best suggestions to make meetings better?

Photo credit to northeast Indiana

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  • http://www.barbaraling.com Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

    My best tip is to:

    Tell people what you’re gong to tell them.

    Then tell them.

    Then tell them what you just told them.

    Then showcase where you go from there.

    Redundancy…it works.

  • http://rodneysjobquest.wordpress.com Melissa

    Sticking to the agenda is a one of the hardest points on that list, IMO. An extension of that point is to stick to the topic at hand.

    Too many times, I have been in meetings where participants either made comments that jumped ahead in the agenda or they digressed to a section that had already been discussed. It makes for quite the jumbled mess!

  • http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com Mark Allen Roberts

    Something I will be blogging about tomorrow is the need to “manage your HIPPOS”. (Highest paid people in the room) as teams often defer to their view based on their title and not their expertise.

  • http://www.positioningsystems.com Douglas Wick

    These rules are exactly what we coach are clients to do as Gazelles coaches [Rockefeller Habits]. In addition to maintaining a rhythm of meetings that are routinely followed, [Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, etc.,] we also suggest you keep track of accountabilities discussed in the meeting. Who, what, when should be tracked and followed up on. In addition a time segment set aside to break down specific frustration and issues the group or company is having “collective intelligence” can be extreemly valuable to help get a team or department unstuck!

  • http://www.stacybrice.com Stacy Brice

    I always coach people to first consider that the meetings they want to hold are actually nothing more appropriate than memos to key people.

    If it’s a memo you need, cancel the meeting.


  • http://slackermanager.com Phil Gerbyshak

    Redundancy does work. I repeat. Redundancy does work.

    Thanks Barbara!

  • http://slackermanager.com Phil Gerbyshak

    Staying on topic is a GREAT suggestion! Thanks for the reminder Melissa!

  • http://slackermanager.com Phil Gerbyshak

    That’s an interesting tip Mark Allen. Don’t defer to the highest paid person in the room. I’ve seen that frequently too, and it is definitely not a good way to have an effective meeting.

  • http://slackermanager.com Phil Gerbyshak

    Keeping track of the accountabilities is a fantastic suggestion Douglas. If we know what is expected of us, during and after the meetings, we can be more effective in the time we have.

    Solid tip! Thanks!

  • http://slackermanager.com Phil Gerbyshak

    I hadn’t thought of that before Stacy, but you’re right. If all you’re doing is informing the leadership of a decision that’s already made, unless in person sales is needed, then there’s no sense in meeting.

    Thanks for the tip and for stopping by!