Effective and Productive Business Meetings

This week on the Public Speaker I talk about how to plan and deliver effective and productive business meetings.  Here’s a quick summary of the episode, but you can listen to the episode here. (It’s less than 10 minutes time.)

  • Know and state the purpose of your meeting.  Meetings are good for coming to resolution.  If you are sharing information perhaps another approach is better.
  • Know and state the idea outcome.  This motivates participants to achieve it.
  • Include the purpose and outcome on the agenda.
  • List required and optional attendees.
  • For each topic list who, what, and how long.  Ex.  Review conference location – Paul G. 3 min
  • Include breaks and social time on the agenda.
  • Send out agenda at least a day in advance.
  • Start and end on time, even if everyone is not there. Return from breaks on time too.
  • Mange time by assigning limits to each segment and using a timer.
  • Use a two-minute warning system to alert participants they are about to go over.
  • After each segment get explicit, public ownership of tasks.
  • Maintain a positive engaged environment by assigning a facilitator who asks questions and encourages feedback from all participants.
  • Have a rule that only one person speaks at a time.
  • Latecomers shouldn’t be embarrassed, but they shouldn’t be “caught-up” either.
  • Be sure to greet and say good-bye to all meeting participants.  It’s good manners and it’s good for networking.
  • Verbally express support of good ideas.
  • Insist on no blackberries, no phone conversations in room, and maybe even no laptops!
  • Follow-up the meeting by distributing the notes quickly and updating project plans.

While researching for this episode I found a few, fresh new interesting ideas.  I wanted to include them in the podcast but it was already running long with the tried and true tips.  So here they are.

  • From Marissa Mayer at Google: Block out a large chunk of time each week that can be divided into 10 minute increments.  Allow people to schedule “micro-meetings” within the larger block of time.  This idea comes from
  • From Google: Consider projecting a large timer on the wall to help people keep to published time frames.
  • From Google: Encourage people to supply evidence for their statements.
  • From Seth Godin: Create a public space (either a big piece of poster board or a simple online page) that allows attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. Just a simple box where everyone can write a number. Watch what happens. ‘
  • From Bert Decker: Cut the meetings you have in half. Cut the time of the meetings that remain in half.

My Thoughts:

Finally, I just want to add a comment.  I do understand that many of the ideas discussed are for INTERNAL organizations.  For me, I spend most of my time in meetings with clients, vendors, partners, and prospects.  I think different rules apply in those situations.  In addition, I also spend time in meetings with volunteer groups and these are by far the most painful meetings for me.  I hope to write something with these types of meetings in mind as well.

Your Thoughts:

If you’ve got some tips and suggestions for these situations, please pass them along or post them in the comments!  I am very interested to hear what you think.

There is 1 comment .


I am interested in the nuances of meetings with volunteers. In business people have to attend meetings good or bad, how should meetings with volunteers be organized differently?

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