From Stronger Facilitation to White Board Agendas: Tips for Running More Effective Meetings

We recently had a Connect discussion on how to run effective meetings. Prior to that call, I posted the topic and issues in a couple of my LinkedIn groups and got some great responses. It seems meeting efficiency is a sore spot in many companies but there are some tips and techniques to improve your meeting’s effectiveness. While there were a variety of views on the matter, a common theme emerged from the 30+ responses: a strong leader/facilitator is the key. This is the best way to ensure a meeting stays on topic, on time, and accomplishes its objectives.

Here were some other suggestions I found interesting:

  • “Anyone late, including the lead, contributes $1 to a pre-determined donation.”
  • “Make timely arrival a desire. Make the person who shows up last sing a song and reward the first person to show up with a treat.”
  • “Use whiteboards to stress the main topic or agenda.”
  • “Let opinions be free and objection constructive. You can reap some unexpected benefits by keeping things a little loose.”
  • “Distributing an agenda ahead of time only helps the discussions keep on track and gives all an opportunity to insert items they feel warrant discussion.”
  • “Everyone needs to agree what the meeting is about and what outputs/decisions need to be produced by the end of it. Too much meeting time gets wasted talking at cross purposes.”
  • “Keep the meeting on topic. Allow for some free discussion but if it seems to be taking too long give the necessary people an action to take the subject off line and, if necessary, report back as an agenda item at the next meeting.”
  • “Instill time discipline into participants and develop the necessary culture of respect and time management.”
  • “Only meet when a meeting is necessary.”
  • “Try stand-up meetings for quick discussions. Make a meeting slightly uncomfortable, i.e. no chairs. Once people sit down they get comfortable and things can quickly go off-topic.”
  • “Record actions, not verbatim minutes.”
  • “Ban all meetings for a period of time.”
  • “Pertaining to managing time, place a large clock on the table, visible to all, and hold speakers accountable to staying on schedule.”
  • “Meetings should start with a review of open issues from the prior meeting, so that issues don’t get dropped/forgotten. Hold attendees accountable for bringing closure to their open issues.”
  • “The meeting should have one leader that controls the flow of the meeting and calls BS when someone digresses from the meeting purpose.”
  • “You need structure, and you need to be systematic. When people come to meetings, they should be ready to account for the responsibilities relating to their role, they should be ready to talk about the challenges they are facing, and ready to listen to the contributions of others.”

What would you add? What are some best practices you use to run an effective meeting?

Additional resources:

6 Tips for Being a Good Facilitator (Danny Beckett Jr.)

How to Run an Effective Meeting (Inc.)

How to Run a Meeting Like Google (Bloomberg)

5 Tips for Improving Meeting Management Skills (Brian Tracey)

Book: Robert’s Rules of Order, 11th Edition

Book: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish