Steps You Must Take to Run a Successful Meeting and Say Goodbye to Boring Meetings

When I was in the corporate world, I always laughed (not out loud) when I saw all of those bored faces in meetings. I was one of them from time to time, thinking to myself “When is this meeting going to be over?” While I was physically there, mentally I was out in instant messaging land (I usually had my laptop or Blackberry with me). J

How can you avoid this (the bored faces and boring meetings) from happening?

Successful meetings don’t happen by accident. It takes serious planning and thinking. With my 10 years experience running thousands of meetings, I have developed a few tips for meeting organizers.

1.      Set Clear Goals & ExpectationAsk yourself these questions:

  • What is the objective of the meeting?
  • What is the expected outcome of the meeting?
  • What do you want participants do during the meeting?
  • Who should be there?
  • What do the participants need to prepare?
  • What is in it for them?  (Give your participants a reason to come)
  • Where is it?
  • When does it start and end?
  • What should you call this meeting? (Give it a good name!)

2.      Invite the Right People

Don’t waste your or other peoples’ time. Invite the people who really need and want to be there.

3.      Motivate the Right People

Once you get the right people on board, you need to create some meeting angels. Meeting angels are the few people who support your goals and objectives even before the meeting begins. They like you and want to help you in making the meeting successful. They can help you to move the meeting along. They can also ask other right people to join or support your meeting. 

P.S. You must identify your meeting angels a minimum of one week before the meeting. You need to give your angels some time to think about how they can help you.

4.      Prepare the Agenda

When you prepare your agenda, think about these questions:

  • How much time do you or your participants have?
  • How much time do you need to achieve your objectives?
  • How much time can you expect to get from your participants?
  • Can you accomplish your objective in one meeting or do you need multiple meetings?
  • Who would be the best person to drive and lead the agenda item?  (It doesn’t have to be you.)

Your agenda must include the following:

  • Start & End Time
  • Date / Location
  • Agenda items with allotted time and owners
  • Introduction
  • Conclusion (Time to review action items)
  • Ground Rules (No laptop or phone?)

You must make copies for all participants. This is not about saving a tree. It is about getting everyone on the same page.

5.      Define Clear Roles & Responsibilities

There are a minimum of three kinds of role in each meeting: the leader, the facilitator and the participant. The leader drives the meeting objectives. The facilitator drives the agenda and time. Be very clear about who is doing what. Just because you initiate the meeting doesn’t mean you have to be the facilitator.  

6.      Follow the Agenda

You need to encourage people to respect and follow your agenda. If your participants get excited about certain agenda item (good problem to have) and won’t stop talking, just say this “I hate to break up this conversation, but we need to move on to our next agenda item. Let me follow up and set up a different meeting just focusing on this.”

7.     Read Your Audience

Watch your participants.  Here are some signs of losing interest:

  • Reading emails (on laptop or Blackberry)
  • Staring at distant objects
  • Looking at the clock
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Sleeping or yawning

You can bring them back by:

  • Taking a break
  • Ask them a direct question (What do you think?)
  • Talk to them privately
  • Point out the no emails or phone rule
  • Ask them to stand up and stretch

8.      Wrap Up

Give yourself at least 10 minutes at the end to conclude your meeting. This is the most important part of your meeting and you need to address the following:

  • Summarize the meeting
  • Review the outcome of the meeting
  • Review action items (Who needs to do what and by when?)
  • Acknowledge leaders and participants (Make them feel good about your meeting)

Just Do This…

Review these meeting tips when you prepare for your next meeting. It will save you lots of time and frustration for years to come.

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8 Responses to “Steps You Must Take to Run a Successful Meeting and Say Goodbye to Boring Meetings”

  1. Huynh Ngoc Phuong on 21 Aug 2007 at 8:14 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for the experience and knowledge you are sharing! So much more than thankful,


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  3. Ananga Sivyer's Living by Design Blog on 29 Aug 2007 at 5:50 am

    Living by Design Blog Carnival No.14…

  4. on 30 Aug 2007 at 5:05 am

    That is some solid advice for running a successful meeting.
    As someone still working in the corporate world, I would add Step 0:
    Decide if the meeting is really, really necessary.

    A vast majority of meetings can be easily avoided with a phone call, or better yet an email. Unfortunately, many people don’t get this or refuse to. That is usually because they can get perceived job value just by holding the meeting, whereas for others, the meeting is taking precious time that could have been used for doing other useful work.

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  6. on 01 Sep 2007 at 2:54 am

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  8. cheef justece on 18 Nov 2008 at 1:45 am

    Iam a frequent visiter to your site and i will be glad if you can send me tips on BUSINESS COMMUNICATION through my Email.

    Your site on business research is the best,hope to hear from you.

    thank you

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