Leading effective meetings


What’s the first thing most people say when it comes to preparing? “I don’t have time to prepare!” You are already too busy going to meetings, right? It’s true that preparation takes valuable time, but the investment up front more than pays for itself in results.
To prepare for a meeting, you need to:
  • Define the purpose of your meeting
  • Invite the right people
  • Set expectations with presenters
  • Develop a meeting agenda
  • Give advance notice
  • Use a meeting preparation form
Define the Purpose of Your Meeting
First, describe the results you need from the meeting. Then decide what kind of meeting will help you best accomplish them. This will help you know who should attend and how long a meeting should be.
If the results you want require that people come together to share information, then it’s an information meeting. Plan how you will quickly and effectively exchange information.
If the meeting needs to solve a crucial work problem, such as a parts shortage, then a problem-solving meeting will best accomplish those results. Plan to provide a structure for solving problems as a group.
When you are defining the purpose of your meeting, set realistic goals. Don’t try to accomplish too much at a single meeting.
Invite the Right People
Have you ever led a meeting where little was accomplished because the right people weren’t there?
Be sure to invite the people who have the necessary information and the people who can make final decisions. Not having them present will waste everyone’s time
In addition, don’t make the mistake of inviting too many people. It should be evident to each person why they are invited. Try to keep the number of attendees as small as possible
Set Expectations with Presenters
Presenters use valuable time in a meeting, and you want to get the most from their contributions. Be sure to set clear expectations for both content and length of presentations.
We’ve all had the experience of a guest expert going on and on with endless slides of data when a five minute summary would have sufficed, or of a staff member who gives a two-sentence status report when handouts and discussion of issues were expected. Don’t expect presenters to read your mind.
Make sure that every presenter knows.
  • The purpose of their presentation
  • The time allotted
  • What information is needed
Give Advance Notice
In order to get the most valuable contribution from all the attendees at a meeting, distribute a meeting notice. The meeting notice should include:
  • Purpose
  • Leader
  • Date, time, and location
  • Participant list
  • Agenda
  • Any preparation required
Giving participants time to prepare will help ensure that the meeting will go more smoothly and that less time will be wasted.
Develop a Meeting Agenda
Time needs to be allocated prudently in a meeting. An agenda is a tool that will help your meetings stay on course and minimize wasted time. The agenda may be very simple for short, routine meetings, or more involved for a longer meeting in which many topics must be covered.
Your agenda should include the following elements
Date, time, and location of the meeting
Purpose of the meeting
List of participants
Specific topics to be addressed
Priority of each topic
Time allotted to each topic
Be sure to leave time in the agenda for new issues that are brought up during the meeting.
Please refer to the sample Meeting Agenda Form to understand this tool better.
Meeting Agenda
Complete this agenda prior to each meeting and make notes of necessary issues for the next meeting.
Meeting purpose: _______________________________
Meeting date: ______________________ Meeting place: _______________________
Meeting time: ______________________ Meeting leader: ______________________
Issues for Next Meeting Agenda: