You Are Doing it Wrong: Tips for Running Effective Meetings

By August 8, 2019 October 4th, 2023 Learning From Mistakes

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

When was the last time you left a meeting and thought, “Wow, that was a great use of everyone’s time?” But, unfortunately, more often than not, meetings get off-track, run over schedule, and repeat information that could have been summed up in an email.

The fact is that running effective meetings is a skill most leaders need to gain.

Fortunately, effective meeting management is possible.  With a little strategy, your organization will run effective meetings quickly.  Here’s what I’ve learned about crafting effective business meetings.

You are Doing it Wrong: Tips for Running Effective Meetings depicted by a leader writing on the board while four attendees are napping.

Ground Rules for Effective Meetings

The key to running effective meetings is to establish a few ground rules.  The following tips are effective meeting strategies that can help keep your sessions on track.

  • Be on time.  In this regard, you must lead by example. For example, your employees won’t take punctuality seriously if the meeting organizer is always five minutes late.  Also, don’t tolerate your participants arriving late.
  • Keep your meetings short and focused.  Don’t repeat, ramble, or go off on a tangent.  Work off an agenda so no one loses track of where you are.  One of the biggest problems is allowing a minor issue to dominate the available time.  
  • Try holding short stand-up meetings.  If everyone must stand until the session is over, no one will be too inclined to talk for long.
  • Avoid having meetings just for the sake of meetings. Instead, think long and hard about whether a potential meeting could be summed up in an email or phone call.
  • Pick unusual locations in which to meet.  Holding a meeting outside when the weather is beautiful can be a quick morale boost.  Some people enjoy having walking meetings to keep participants on their toes.
  • Keep it under 45 minutes.  If you can’t conclude in 45 minutes, you and your participants must prepare better before your next meeting.  Asking your employees to sit still longer than 45 minutes asks for trouble.
  • Pace new information and seek closure.  It’s better to discuss fewer ideas and come to a conclusion rather than have an extended agenda.  Here is a pro tip:  early agenda items always stimulate the most dialog and time.  If you have a controversial topic, put a minor topic before it on the agenda.
  • Speaking of agendas, send yours out before the meeting so your participants have time to gather their thoughts and prepare any resources they’ll need to bring.
  • It would help if you kept things interactive for conference calls and phone meetings to maintain interest.  If you’re not engaging with your participants, they’ll probably not pay attention for long.
  • Finally, the secret to running effective meetings is ” running” them.  You must herd your participants back to the topic if they get off-track.

Having short, sweet, engaging, and to-the-point meetings is in everyone’s best interest.  If you follow these tips, you’ll soon see that running effective meetings is more doable than you think.

If you still need help running effective meetings, I can help.  My blog contains free articles that can help you improve your leadership skills and establish your authority.  Sign up for my newsletter to deliver each new weekly piece to your inbox.


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