One of the most painful parts of a workday is a bad meeting. Meetings don’t have to be bad but too often they are done poorly. There are a variety of reasons why meetings go wrong. The meeting scheduled for an hour that goes an hour and 20 minutes with only two of the six people attending contributing to the discussion. Or, maybe the meeting where the first 10 minutes are spent trying to get the screen share going and everybody recalls a similar meeting that took place six months ago but people just don’t remember what was ever decided.

Here are some tips to making meetings successful as an organizer. A future post will talk about being a good meeting participant.

  1. Purpose: One of the most important things is to have a meeting purpose. If you can’t articulate the meeting purpose then the meeting should not be held.
  2. Format: Does the purpose of the meeting really need a meeting or is it something where an email, text, or discussion board would provide a better format? Not everything needs to be solved in meetings so ask yourself what the proper format should be before scheduling your next meeting.
  3. People: Do you have the right people in the meeting and only the right people? Too often meetings are either over inclusive and they include people as participants because they don’t want to be left out but don’t bring value to topic at hand. Or, meetings do not have all the necessary parties invited or attending. This means that another meeting needs to be held or bad meeting outcomes happen.
  4. Time: Meetings should only be as long as is needed to achieve the meeting purpose. People tend to fill meeting out because it was scheduled. So, it is best to estimate the time needed and only block that time. Instead of having your calendar by default setup 1-hour meetings, change it to 30-minute meetings.
  5. Technology: Good technology can make the meeting go smoothly whether that is conference line or screen sharing or projecting. Work to ensure that the right technology is in place to support the meeting format that has been put together to attain your meeting purpose.
  6. Punctuality: Meetings get blocked up together and many information workers’ days are just one long line of meetings. Accordingly, be respectful of people’s time and start the meeting on time and end the meeting on time.
  7. Preparation: Great meeting organizers spend time preparing for the meeting. This includes preparing documents or exhibits to make the meeting more effective and sharing them in advance.
  8. Record: Having a record of meetings helps ensure that what occurred is properly maintained and that later when recollections are foggy there is something to go back and review. Often times having a meeting record captured is best done by someone that is not an active participant in the meeting.
  9. Engagement: Great meetings allow all participants an opportunity to engage. This may include even going around the table in some instances to get each people’s input.

The tips individually above are not difficult but rarely do meeting organizers put them all together. Each item takes effort and some of them require real effort and time spent preparing for a meeting beforehand. I myself realize these items and while I do each of them sometimes – I rarely do all of them together. However, each new meeting is a new opportunity to make a great meeting – even if sometimes the best meeting is the meeting that does not happen because it is unneeded.

WLP Tip No. 6: Take the time to get feedback from others on how well you do on organizing and running your meetings and seek to improve. Review each of the areas above and assess yourself on how well you do on each and have several others do that same assessment. Then take your learnings and focus on making your meetings magic.

Remember that being a great meeting organizer will make you a more effective information worker and will build your brand no matter what you do. Take the opportunity today to put this meeting advice into practice.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: Around Dynamic Signal via photopin (license)