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Forget the Bagels, I Have a Meeting to Run

Jul 16, 2013

Meetings are a necessary waste of time.  But, they can be a little less wasteful with these tips.


We surveyed a range of people who represent different roles in meetings (leader, expert, presenter, etc.) and explored different types of meetings (selling, buying, strategic planning, creative, crises, etc.).

And, we asked survey participants, “What are the practical ways to avoid wasting time in a meeting?”

Before getting to their answers, let’s get the common sense “top 5 ways to run a meeting” on the table first:

Top 5 Ways to Run A Meeting

  1. Have a clearly communicated objective with an agenda that will accomplish that objective
  2. Stick to allocated times
  3. Establish participants’ roles (Why is he in this meeting?)
  4. Never plan a meeting during a meeting
  5. Conclude with the meeting's original objective and the outcome it achieved

Practical Ways to Make a Meeting More Effective

Here are a few highlights from our survey:

  • “I replaced ‘Wrap-Up’ on all my agendas with ‘Quiz’.”
  • “No PowerPoint. You can’t have a discussion when the entire room is looking at one person. And, if you don’t want a discussion, don’t have a meeting.”
  •  “If you are 5 minutes late to my meetings, it’ll cost you $1, plus another $1 for each minute thereafter. I collect cash on the spot, and use the money for happy hours.  Sadly, the happy hour fund diminished after the first month.”
  • “Forget the bagels and cream cheese. It wastes at least 15 minutes of meeting time.”
  • “In weekly department meetings, I randomly assign one person to run the meeting at the beginning of the meeting. It ensures that everyone has read the agenda and knows the objectives in advance.”
  • “I started a general rule that the most senior person in a meeting cannot run the meeting. It turned meetings from ‘handing out assignments’ to making my senior leaders accountable for their staff.”


How do you make meetings more effective?

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that eatudcors will never learn to teach, or support the teaching of, relevant technologies and skills if they don't use these themselves. The meeting you attended proves the point. I attended a critical business meeting today; I thought for awhile about buying a pen and pad so I looked "prepared" in the old-fashioned sense; but the reality is that I can find everything on my laptop, and nothing that I've written down. I got to the meeting, pulled out my laptop, and took copious notes that I've spent tonight reviewing, revising, and turning into a report and thank you. The note pad would still be in the bottom of my bag. This is how everyone I know operates in the business world today; it's sad that your colleagues don't know it.
Jeff you ctoninue to raise the bar of consciousness with these articles.Your analogies hit the nail right on the head. Event professionals have to start thinking of themselves as Event Engineers, rather than logistics managers. They must lead the charge within their organizations to deliver experiences that are rich in learning value, interactive opportunity, and collaboration. It's no longer good enough to slap a bunch of breakout sessions on the meeting wall, not sure of where they will land in the success spectrum.As you emphasize often, its not just about content, its about delivery of the content its about creating that rich learning environment.Events must be crafted by understanding customers, their needs their wants and ultimately giving them a voice in the design phase. I (along with my PCMA colleagues) am currently experimenting with that in the collaborative development of the PCMA Education Conference taking place in Montreal, in June.It has been an enlightening and sometimes confusing/painful experience getting through the program design phase, but this learning lab is creating some very positive results. We are excited about this project and the learning that goes with it.Thanks as always, for getting my motor running!@michaelmccurry
Nathon Ross
Pretty funny and spot on. My old boss did the quiz thing too.
John Parker
Depending on the purpose of my meeting, for example if I am having a strategy meeting or a planning meeting, I will use a dry erase board to list out the agreed upon deliverables/commitments, who is responsible, and due dates. Then I follow up individually with those assignees.