10 Tips for Successful Meetings

Meetings.  We have too many of them and they aren’t very effective.  So how do we ensure that meetings are purposeful, are only as frequent as needed and accomplish strategic goals?  The answer lies in meeting preparation and facilitation – making sure everyone knows the reason for the meeting, that the right people are in the room, that everyone has the right information and that follow-ups are completed promptly.

Here are 10 tips that I’ve used to achieve successful meetings:

1. Know the purpose of the meeting. What are you trying to accomplish?  Do you need certain decisions to be made?  Is this a planning session for a new project, brainstorming for a new service or a problem-solving discussion?  Write down the objectives and create an agenda.  Here’s an easy-to-use Meeting Agenda Template for you.

2.  Once you know the purpose, decide who needs to be there.  Who can make the decisions?  Who is responsible for the event?  Whose input do you need?  What influencers need to be there?

3.  Find the right moment.  When does the meeting need to take place?  Do you have all the information needed to proceed with the meeting or should you wait a few weeks?

4.  Determine when everyone can meet.  Make sure that the people you need in attendance will commit to being at the meeting.  There’s no point in getting people together if a key decision maker can’t make it that day.

5.  Finish the prep work.  Schedule the meeting and send the agenda and any meeting materials to attendees.  Ask them to read the materials prior to the meeting.

6.  Assign someone to take notes.  This should include noting decisions made (and by whom) along with action items identified (who each was assigned to and when each is due).   Feel free to download this Meeting Notes Template to help you get started!

7.  Start the meeting on-time and review the objectives and the agenda.  Make sure everyone knows each other and what role they have within the organization and for that specific meeting.

8.  Keep the group on-topic.  Document miscellaneous topics that come up in a separate spot (a whiteboard works well for this) and return to those at the end of the meeting if there is time available.  If not, then ask the individuals who raised those topics after the meeting what next steps need to be taken for each item (a separate meeting, a quick email/phone call, etc).

9.  During the meeting, “read the room.”  Look for people who aren’t speaking up who probably should and call on them for their specific input.  Rein-in people who are dominating the conversation.

10.  Follow-up promptly.  Send meeting notes and action items out to the participants within one business day after the meeting.  Follow up on action items until they have been completed and the results reported to the team.

Meetings can be very productive and useful for making decisions – it just takes a bit of work to achieve those benefits.  Let me know how your next meeting goes and if you have any questions.  I’d love to hear from you!