How to Run a Meeting

Sometimes you’re sitting in a conference room, or your boss’ office and the meeting seems to drag on forever. There doesn’t appear to be a point to the meeting, and side conversations are going on. Perhaps the person running the meeting is eating tacos. (This happened to me today) Here are some things you should do and some you shouldn’t.

Have the right attitude. The right attitude is crucial to a meeting. If you call a meeting, respect your people enough to treat them well. They are not there to stroke your ego or tell you what you want to hear.

Keep it short. Everyone hates meetings, so keep them to 30 minutes if possible. When you schedule the meeting for an hour, they will fill the time. But when you set the time for 30 minutes your people will keep comments short and relevant.

There are ways to shorten meetings, but the best way to keep them short is to stay on task. Keep side discussions to a minimum and if other topics arise outside of the scope of the meeting, discuss the issue quickly or delay it for another time.

Be on time. There are few things more disrespectful than showing up to a meeting you called than being late. And if you can’t help being late, be honest and apologize. Also, it’s not good enough to apologize for being late if you are in the hall talking about football then you come in late to the meeting. It is very rude. Respect your people.

Plan the meeting. Planning for a meeting means you respect everyone else’s time.   If the expectation is for there to be input from others, send an agenda to the participants the day prior, so they have time to prepare as well. Or have a regularly repeated, standard agenda, so your people know what to expect.

Send it by email. If you are looking at standard metrics or information that does not need explanation and is for your information or so you can make a decision, have it sent to you by email and cut this part out of the meeting. There is no need to have people sit around and watch you review slides just to say, “next slide.” Doing so is a waste of everyone’s time. Review this information before the meeting and discuss what needs to be discussed during the meeting.

Calculate how much money your meetings cost. If you have 20 people in a meeting for one hour and the average hourly rate is $35 an hour, this one-hour meeting costs $700. The cost may vary, but do you really want to spend $700 in payroll for these people to sit and watch you review slides? Cut your meeting in half and invite only the people you need there to make decisions or provide the necessary information.

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