Another meeting? Make it a good one.

If you have kids, are involved in your community, or part of an organization – you have meetings to attend.  We are surrounded by meetings at work: one-on-one meetings, coaching sessions, reviews, team meetings, task forces, committees, community meetings, etc.

Meetings should have a purpose, those involved should have a reason to be there, and there should be a reasonable amount of time for the meeting.  Sometimes the purpose gets lost.  Sometimes people feel they should meet or should attend a meeting.  Meetings are necessary and don’t have to be long or feel like a pointless obligation.  Here’s hoping you can have a positive influence in the meetings you attend.

bumper meeting

I think people appreciate when meetings start on time, stay on task, and end in a timely matter.  For those wanting to socialize, share, or network – encourage them to come early or stay after because those things are important too.

Prior to a meeting, whenever possible:

  • Have a defined purpose.  All to often the purpose of the meeting gets lost in the “let’s have a monthly meeting” or something like “we should call a membership meeting”.
  • Have an agenda.  Have it ready prior to the meeting so everyone can be prepared.
  • Work in a common space, such as Google Docs.  If your agenda is posted in a common work space, then others can easily add to the agenda or ask for clarification of an agenda item.
  • Verify those who attend the meeting have a purpose in being there.
  • Verify those who need to contribute to the meeting – are prepared to meet.

For each new meeting or task, follow a pattern:

  • Have a point person to keep you on track – whether that is a facilitator, group leader, or the manager.
  • Have a purpose to the meeting and stick to it.
  • Balance between listening and learning.
  • Be effective and inspiring.
  • Take more time in the beginning for the large project parts and chunk out time so that wrapping it up is easier and less time consuming.
  • Group projects and tasks together.  Is there one part of a task that multiple groups are tackling? Do it together or assign it to one group so others aren’t spinning their wheels.
  • Make sure there is an action plan.  Know who is responsible for what before the meeting ends.
  • Keep meeting times to an hour.  If meetings run longer, have a short break for checking email, getting water, or using the bathroom.  If interruptions are a welcomed event, your meeting is too long and off track.

What are the ‘big picture’ things that will help keep your meetings on track?

  • Create a long-term plan.
  • Define your mission.  What is your focus? 
  • The leader should make a point to state your top goals so that everyone is on the same page. Set short, achievable goals.  Establish timelines with each goal.
  • Have a checklist – daily, weekly, monthly – whatever you need to keep the momentum going.
  • Go back to basics.  Ask ‘why’ we do what we do?  Is there an easier way? Is there another way that will push out-of-the-box thinking or that will make us more productive?

Set the tone with some basic meeting etiquette.  The article “15 meeting etiquette rules every professional needs to know” by Samantha Lee and Jacquelyn Smith, details some basic tips that would create a professional atmosphere.  If this article is too business-professional for your meeting, there are still some good take-away points.  Speak up, come prepared, and be concise – are the points I think are most helpful to staying within the purpose of the meeting and it running efficiently.

One final note…if nothing changed
If you have the opportunity to run a meeting, do your best to follow the guidelines above.  Hopefully you can make them even simpler than I have.  If you aren’t the person in charge of meetings, see how you might influence some changes.  No one likes to be unproductive or waste their time.  And remember that all change is possible.

~I’m here to help

To read more, check out the following articles and find more on my Pinterest boards.

Bacon, Natalie. June 2014. 13 Office Etiquette Rules That Are A Must.  Retrieved from:  (*Note: there are a lot of ads on this page – but I think the article was worth the read.)

Lee, Samantha and Smith, Jacquelyn.  August 2015. 15 Meeting Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs To Know.  Retrieved from:

Shore, Jeff.  November 2014. 4 Simple Rules to Cut Down on ‘Evil’ Meetings.  Retrieved from:

The Muse. September 2013. The 21 Unwritten Rules of Meetings