Making meetings magic


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)


Good habits go a long way


Good habits go a long way in moving your career and life forward. Those habits are not as hard to do as many people think and starting out with small things is the way to go. Important habits to ensure success include: 1) make lists; 2) start difficult; 3) don’t multitask; 4) prioritize; 5) get in early; and 6) never eat alone.

  1. Make Lists: Knowledge workers need to use lists because a lot of things are on our plate and lists help us organize things and free up mental space. Having a list of high priority items and low priority items is important. High priority items are items that either have high impact or have upcoming deadline. Low priority items are items that are everything else. Make sure you focus efforts on high priority items. Of course low priority items that take little effort are good to knock off the list. Review your lists at least weekly and if items should move from low priority to high priority or vice versa make sure to do so. Note your high priority lists should not have more than five things on it at a time and if it does so consistently then it is time to talk with your manager.
  2. Start Difficult: People start the day off with a full tank after a night’s rest and getting the difficult stuff done when you are on full just makes sense. Now there are some people that are rare where the best time for them to do difficult work is at night but this is rare. Key is no yourself and when your best mental time is and use this time to focus on the difficult tasks.
  3. Don’t Multitask: Difficult tasks deserve focus and should not be spent multitasking. This means when you are working on difficult tasks you might turn off instant messaging and block that time of day off on your calendar. Even logging out of your email is best and letting calls go to voicemail. Now of course how much of this you can do will depend a lot on your job but the general theme of not multitasking and putting focus on tough tasks is essential.
  4. Prioritize: Understand the priority of the work you are doing and focus on things with highest priority. This seems like an easy thing to do but many of us have so many different items on our plate that we lose sight of this and just do things that are convenient or we like to do at a given time when they do not have the highest priority. Further, if you are a manager make sure to clearly prioritize items for your team so that they can meet expectations.
  5. Get in Early: Getting in early is one of the things I consistently see of nearly all highly successful people. This goes in part to your tank is full discussion mentioned in (2) above and also not having others distracting you. Even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person, I recommend that you give a try for a month and see how you like it because I have seen people that never considered themselves morning people change their mind after they have given it a try.
  6. Never Eat Alone: Not only be successful in your day to day work but also making sure to build relationships with team members, colleagues, and others is important. The famous book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz is a great read and I certainly believe in the thought of having as many coffees, lunches, and happy hours as you can fit in with other obligations is a great way to spend time. Doing this not only helps you get away from your desk and frees up your mind but it also helps further relationships that not only are rewarding as a human being but also often proves beneficial when trying to get work done or looking for that next opportunity.

Putting these good habits into practice will not only help you be more successful at work but work will also be more enjoyable. Let me know how these habits work for you and other key habits you practice to move your career and life forward.

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

photo credit: M.Ryan Photography via photopin cc