As consultants, we hear a lot of complaints about meetings.  We hear that there are too many, they eat up the bulk of the workweek, and most of them are ineffective.  From our perspective, the only reason to get 3 to 5 or even 10 or more people in a room is so that when they leave, they are able to be more effective.  They leave with information that creates confidence, they leave feeling they have influenced decisions that are important, they leave having solved issues that were in the way, and they leave ready to create greater success.

So, here are the four keys to creating great meetings:

1. Review all of your regular meetings: create a table and write down the day and time of each meeting, the objective/core outcomes of the meeting, what success looks like, and who attends.

  • Are there meetings you’ve been having forever but don’t really know what the outcome is that you are looking for?
  • Is there a lot of overlap?
  • Are the right people in each meeting?
  • Are there people in the meeting who should not be there?

2. Identify a basic agenda structure that will support each meeting – these may be different based on the meeting objectives.

  • Determine who sets the agenda and whether or not others can add or influence the agenda.
  • Create a template to follow in order to add structure to the meeting and to facilitate note taking.
  • Determine where meeting agendas and notes will be stored so that discussions and decisions can be easily accessed in future meetings.

3. Identify who leads/owns the meeting.

  • Be specific about their role and whether they are there to participate or only to facilitate.
  • Get clear about their responsibilities between meetings – do they follow-up by cleaning up notes, by nudging the team on their action items, by reminding members to add new items to the next agenda?
  • Determine whether meetings will occur if the meeting leader is not in the office and, if so, who owns the meeting that week.

4. Reassess the need for the meeting and the success of the meeting structure every 6 – 12 months. 

  • Things can change dramatically in that amount of time and it’s important that you don’t take up hours of people’s time if the need no longer exists.
  • This will also give you a chance to consider if there is a meeting that needs to happen that’s not currently scheduled.

Meetings are important – they facilitate discussion, allow you to share information, offer an opportunity to inspire passion and commitment, create space for shared visioning and planning.  They also open time for laughter, building history and creating a sense of “we,” and support people to walk away aligned behind a goal. 

We invite you to spend some time this week reviewing the meetings you currently have in your schedule and see how well they fit the 4 keys listed above.