Make the most of your meetings


We’re trying hard to meet regularly, but we get interrupted by the usual stuff — urgent client needs, employees needing help, a team member is out sick, etc. When we get a chance to meet, we need to be more on point so that we cover everything in the time available. I’m doing my best to make things better, but we’re not there yet. Got any suggestions?

Thoughts of the day: Consider an agreement to meet as a promise. Budget your time. Make the most of every meeting. Be aware of the impressions you make. Get the most out of every meeting.

Setting a time and place to hold a meeting is a promise. Promises to employees are just as important, if not more important, than promises to customers, vendors and family. After all, customers will come and go. Vendors will likely understand if you explain there’s a problem. Family members don’t pay the bills. Do everything in your power to be on time — and prepared — for every meeting you agreed to hold or attend.

Employees really do watch what you do, as much or more than what you say. According to, 7 percent of communication is spoken. The rest comes from body language and tone. Walk into a meeting with your ducks in a row, ready to cover topics in the time allowed, knowing what you want to accomplish.


The way you approach meetings can set the tone for the entire management team. If things are rushed, interrupted, unfinished or haphazard, that can eat away at productivity. Is that really what you want in your company? Would you prefer an organization that is thoughtful, respectful, taking measured risks and working together to complete tasks on time?

Consider the likely tone of the meeting. If it’s a serious meeting, think about how you’ll insert some humor to lighten things up if needed. Prepare to hand out some well-deserved compliments to let everyone know you appreciate the efforts made to date.

A well-planned and well-executed meeting with great follow up can accomplish a lot. Give every meeting the respect it deserves. Plan ahead. Be on time. Follow up afterward.

Know what kind of meeting you’re planning to hold: updates, discovery, conclusion, education, information sharing, team building.


Encourage open debate when you want more insight on a topic. Encourage participants to voice their concerns. Know what kind of debate you’ll be in for by gathering input ahead of time. During the meeting, cut off debate before things get out of hand. Always show respect for differences of opinion.

If it’s a status update meeting, typically part of a weekly staff meeting, ask all participants to come prepared with a brief summary.

If it’s decision time, find out before the meeting whether people can live with a proposed solution. Resist jumping in prematurely to put a topic up for a vote. Lobby for consensus and know when it’s the right time to put a topic on the agenda.


Every meeting benefits from planning and recap. Set aside a half-hour to get prepared for every meeting. Know which items need progress reports. Make a list of new topics to cover. If you’re not willing to plan for the meeting, consider canceling it.

Review the list of attendees and decide on what you want each person to contribute. Shoot off an email to attendees reminding them of what they need to prepare so they’ll look good when it’s their turn to present.

Since people remember only 15 percent of what they hear, ask someone to be the note taker for each meeting. Circulate notes as soon as you’ve had time to review them – you’ll need to budget time to prepare before the meeting and also time to review afterward.


Meetings That Make SENSE: Planning & Running Effective Meetings

by Larry Wennik.