Six Steps For More Successful Meetings

How to Avoid Meeting Mistakes, Tame Time Gobblers, Improve Communication

Meeting monster how-to stepsThe ability to lead effective meetings is an increasingly important and rare occurrence. Nine out of 10 business leaders we surveyed say the ability to conduct effective meetings is a key indicator of business leadership effectiveness. Developing your meeting leadership skills can enhance your value to the company and increase your personal effectiveness.

Wasted time spent in poorly planned meetings regularly leads the list of worker productivity woes. Rampant meeting inefficiency abounds.  One New Jersey based technology firm has tested an idea requiring staffers to stand to keep their meetings brief. It has helped. The likelihood of meeting success or failure is determined well before a meeting time is circulated or the conference call time is reserved.

Hallmarks of bad meetings include having no agenda, no specific goal, too many people or the wrong people, no official note taking and time keeping, and poor follow through.

Six Steps For More Effective Meetings: Better Communication


Plan, prepare, and circulate the agenda. The agenda acts as the meeting road map and stopwatch. Clearly explain the individual's participation so they can prepare their materials and their information points appropriately. An effective agenda includes the meeting purpose and goals. Time invested in a well prepared agenda tells the meeting participants: "here is why this will be a good investment of your time.'

2. Ask The Right People

Meetings are only productive when attended by the right people. Your meeting team should be comprised of people who have direct experience with the issue to be discussed and a track record of success. Meeting members should share a vested interest in making the right decisions and a willingness to move beyond personal agendas. Andrew Carnegie explained, "Strength is derived from unity. The range of our collective vision is far greater when individual insights become one."

The people who are vital to the meeting's effectiveness are those that must make the decision and assume responsibility for its success.

3. Listen

Seems simple. It's not. Have zero tolerance for electronic attention stealers and electronic Divas.  No cell phones. No PDAs/Blackberry.  No exceptions. Each person is either in the meeting, focused and contributing to the team, or they aren't. Be iron willed in this area. If everyone else in the room can close down electronic gear, for the good of the group, so can the electronic diva.

4. Focus

Focus yourself and others. So much time is wasted when people get off topic. Ask yourself before you speak, "Is this helpful, productive, and relevant to what we are trying to accomplish?" Staying focused on the meetng's purpose is an important. Staying focused gives you time to encourage 2-way conversation on the specific agenda. 

5. Recap

Be sure your agenda allows time for the meeting leader to summarize and gain consensus on each key item.

If you have to take a verbal vote on each agenda action item - do so. You do not want people appearing to agree in the meeting and then pursuing a conflicting agenda when the meeting concludes.  Assign responsibility and due dates to any follow up on action items. If a second meeting is required, the best time to set it up is before the first meeting ends.

6. Appreciate & Communicate

Within 24-hours, send out a 'thank you' and include meeting decisions, all action items and owners name, and timelines.

Productivity & Leadership Top Performers. Following these six steps will put you in the top ten percent of meeting leaders and in meeting productivity.


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Contact: Margaret Ross is president and CEO of the Kamaron Institute, a leading business management consulting, marketing research, and staff development firm.

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