Moving From Draining Meetings to Great Meetings

Clients often ask me how they can replace mentally and physically draining meetings with great ones. In my experience, the best meetings start by giving participants a sense of mission and purpose and end by motivating them with meaningful, concise next steps.

This is the model I share with clients to help them lead effective meetings with well-defined action steps:

  1. Create an agenda for every meeting.
  2. Each agenda item will lead to one or more of these outcomes:
    • Clearly defined next steps
    • Key learnings communicated
    • Decisions made
  3. If an agenda item will not lead to one of the above outcomes, reassess or fine-tune it until the item is ready for discussion or remove it from the agenda.
  4. Facilitate the meeting to drive toward the agenda outcomes.

Here are five tips to making the most of any meeting:

  • Choose the participants carefully. Not everyone from a team may be required to attend. Select only those who will benefit from or contribute to the meeting agenda. Share meeting minutes with those who did not attend, both out of courtesy and to ensure everyone remains in the loop.
  • Manage your meeting time effectively. Start a meeting on time and end on time. Can you achieve your meeting agenda goals in an hour, 30 minutes, or less? Meeting management is a good indicator of your people, time, and organizational skills and will allow you to really stand out.
  • Focus attendees by reviewing the purpose of the meeting and the agenda items emphasizing the decision, key learning or forward moving action sought for each agenda item.
  • Ask for a volunteer to take minutes (or assign the task to someone in advance of the meeting) to ensure you have a record of what was said, agreed upon and a clear sense of next steps and who is responsible for each step. It is not however, intended to capture a transcript of the meeting.
  • Wrap up the meeting by reviewing key decisions, learnings and forward moving action items and any accountabilities team members have for moving these items forward post meeting.

The success of your meeting depends on your ability to get closure on important issues and next steps. Engaging attendees in a focused agenda and well facilitated process will ensure you lead meetings that are both worthwhile for you and your team.

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