How to Run a Meeting – The TEN|10 Crib Sheet

We took a short summer break from blogging, and now we’re back with some tips on how to run an effective meeting. It’s a paradox​.

How to Run a Meeting – The TEN|10 Crib Sheet

Over the past decade, the means for workplace communication have proliferated, as have the tools available to support more efficient, productive and streamlined communication in the office. From phone, texting and internal messaging to slick apps like Slack, Flock, Google Hangout and Facebook Workplace, we have so many methods by which to exchange information, and yet our calendars seem to be more packed full of meetings than ever.  

Maybe the old saying has merit, “We will continue to have meetings until we figure out why no work is getting done.”

Tongue-in-cheek commentary aside, meetings are critical in the workplace. Face-to-face interaction can align understanding, spark creativity and mitigate pitfalls. Between the sheer volume of meetings and their importance, it is no wonder an Amazon search yields more than 1,000 results for books on how to run “successful,” “effective,” “energizing” and even “mind-blowing” meetings. But who has time to read a whole book when there are so many meetings to attend?  

Here is the TEN|10 crib sheet on how to run a meeting.

STEP ONE: To meet or not to meet?

First and foremost, consider if a meeting is necessary. If your business needs can be met in another way, consider an alternative. For example, if you are simply disseminating or restating information, written communication may be preferable. Meeting face-to-face can be highly productive, but always keep in mind you are asking for people’s valuable time. Attendees should walk away from your meeting energized, not drained.

STEP TWO: Plan the meeting like you would a vacation.

Once you are convinced that meeting is the best way to achieve your goals, determine the style, location and length for optimal output. Will a quick stand-up exchange fit the need, or is a more in-depth, off-site approach required? If the meeting is focused on idea generation, consider a more creative space than the conference room (get out of the proverbial box and into an off-site location). Schedule the length of the meeting realistically. Don’t ask for 30 minutes if a brainstorming session will clearly take an hour and a half, and likewise, don’t schedule an hour when 20 minutes will suffice. Start and end on time.

STEP THREE: Make the purpose clear and the content meaningful.

Prior to the meeting, draft and circulate an agenda explicitly articulating the objectives and expectations. If data is required from attendees, follow-up in advance to ensure prework assignments are well defined.

STEP FOUR: Take your role as the moderator to heart.

While you may be a content contributor (even the sole contributor), your role is larger than other participants. Actively moderate the meeting by following the basic guidelines of facilitation:   

  • Keep the conversation focused on the objectives.
  • Keep attendees engaged. Read the room and move on when warranted.
  • Advance and deepen the discussion when it is valuable.
  • Ensure all voices are heard.
  • Create a positive environment, but allow for disagreement to surface.
  • End with a recap of action items and assignments.

STEP FIVE: Follow up and follow through.

Once the meeting is complete, circulate notes that highlight the decisions, action items, next steps and associated timing to all who attended and those who could not attend. Follow up with individuals as needed. Most importantly, model the behavior you expect from your colleagues. In other words, if you said you would do something, do it.

Look for our next blog post in which we will examine Disruptive Management Styles.