Leading Effective Meetings

Leading Effective Meetings

Meetings are the kind of thing that we take for granted in business life. We don´t usually ask ourselves about them, unless we are trapped in the middle of one. They can serve important job goals. They allow ideas to be shared among colleagues, information to be disseminated, required discussions to happen between stakeholders, and decisions to be made. On the other hand, they can also become true black holes of lost time, pointless conversations and discussions that don’t facilitate the pertinent decisions. This ends up in frustration for your team members, and a decrease in productivity. Which one sounds more familiar to you?

Let’s take my calendar as example. I reviewed the last month taking note of the time scheduled for meetings. It accounted for 41 out of my 160 working hours. That’s around 25% of my time! If we assume that my calendar is not particularly unusual, we could say that meetings can easily account for ¼ of the time of an organization. It is important to get them right. If you are a Project Manager the burden is heavier, you are expected to handle this things like you were breathing.

Before the meeting – take time to plan properly. Depending on the relevance of the meeting and its audience, this can mean only a few minutes, or an entire planning session. The basic questions need to be answered: Why do you need the meeting? What is the agenda? What is your desired outcome? Who do you need to be there? Can they make it? Which inputs do you need? Who is in charge of them? This will minimize the waste of time of gathering everyone just to discover that you don’t have what is needed to meet.

Send the agenda ahead of time, this will allow the attendees to familiarize with it. If appropriate, ask them to submit ahead of time any additional points they deem pertinent. Follow up with any participants presenting with you to confirm they are ready. If there were action items from a previous meeting, confirm with their owners as well.

During the meeting – set for you a reputation for starting on time. Besides the time savings that we discussed above, the word will spread and people will be less tempted to fall on late show ups. Follow the agenda, if someone triggers very different topic; defer it for another meeting if necessary. Otherwise you risk ending with a completely different meeting from the one you planned. Allow for questions or comments often, probably at the end of each topic. So you help comprehension or discussion.

After the meeting – Spend a few minutes right after the meeting to finish your notes, polish and send the meeting minute, and including your action items in the agenda. If you leave that for later you may end-up losing some ends and requiring follow-ups just to make sure what the point was. This is challenging if you are on back to back meetings; so make sure your notes are complete and clear enough to reproduce the information as soon as possible. In the meeting minute it is useful to note the action items on the top. Include the owner, description, and expected delivery date. This will call the attention of the corresponding team members. Another interesting trick is to submit the minute directly to them, and only copying the colleagues with no active items from that meeting.

Good luck with your next meeting!

- Sergio Calvo.


  1. Very useful insights, Sergio. Thanks for posting.

  2. Thanks a lot Lupo! I am very happy that you find them useful. Cheers!!


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