We all know the great feeling after we’ve been to a good meeting and unfortunately we all know the feeling of just having wasted our time in a bad meeting.  Here are some things you can do to try and make sure that a meeting you lead is one of the good ones.  You can use these ideas for a major meeting in a corporate setting and for that meeting of volunteers.

  1. Set a meeting purpose and be sure that all participants know that purpose in advance of the meeting.
  2. Invite the right people – attendees should include the person with the authority to make a decision.
  3. Set a clear start time, end time and location and then start and end your meeting on time.  If one person is late start the meeting anyway rather than having the other participants wait around.
  4. Have an agenda for the meeting and some idea of timing for each item.  Don’t leave the most important  item until the end. Make sure everyone gets a copy of the agenda prior to the meeting so they can come prepared.
  5. Move through the agenda.  If one topic seems to be taking a long time consider moving on to the next agenda item without resolution – this isn’t always possible. If an important topic comes up that isn’t on the agenda, consider parking the topic (noting it down on a list) and covering it in another meeting.
  6. Have one conversation  at a time – sidebar conversations may be important for everyone to hear.
  7. Avoid conversations that could happen outside the meeting.  When two people are discussing something in great detail that doesn’t involve the other people in the meeting consider whether that conversation could happen outside of the meeting rather than taking the time of all the meeting participants.
  8. Record the actions the team agreed to. You don’t necessarily need lengthy meeting notes but at least record the actions determined, and before the end of the meeting clarify the actions, who is responsible and a timing. After the meeting share those notes and at the next meeting review the actions and progress.
  9. If you need to meet again set the next meeting date – and everyone will thank you for not having all that meeting planning in between meetings.