A note on how to run a meeting

On the trip home from Savannah, my wife volunteered to drive so I could get caught up on some lovely EMOB reading assignments, such as “A Note on How to Run a Meeting.” In this article, I learned that about two thirds of an executive’s time is spent in meetings. The author stresses the importance of preparation, and notes that no amount of execution can compensate for poor planning when it comes to meetings.

The key points in planning included:

  • Setting objectives
  • Selecting participants
  • Planning the agenda
  • Doing your homework

It is important to know what the participants expect to get out of the meeting, and to identify the hidden agendas that are inevitable when you bring multiple personalities together. More importantly, it is vital that the organizer has some clear objectives and they structure the meeting to achieve those objectives. Using the classic Stephen Covey model, begin with the end in mind.

One key consideration that needs to be addressed very early on is the purpose of the meeting; is this intended to solve a problem, or to share information? And if it’s to share information, could that be done another way?

The chair of the meeting should publish their agenda and circulated to participants at least a day in advance, and they are responsible for managing the flow:

  • Begin the meeting
  • Encourage problem-solving
  • Keep discussions on track
  • Get to a decision
  • And the meeting
  • Define next steps

And  by the way, we’re so lucky we got to read Mr. Ware’s notes on running a meeting here, because on Amazon.com the treatise is out of print and back-ordered until the cows come home.


One thought on “A note on how to run a meeting

  1. The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Here’s why:

    They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things.

    They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.

    They drift off-subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm.

    They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for.

    They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.

    They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.

    Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another meeting leads to another …

    (from Rework, by Jason Fried)


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