How to run effective meetings

The following is some advice on running effective meetings:

Who should chair? A good chair is a fair person who likes to listen but has the confidence to interrupt people. They should be relatively uninvolved emotionally with the subject of the meeting. I don’t recommend the boss chairs.

Here are some tips for chairs that often make meetings more effective. You will need to adapt them to the circumstances and it’s once they’re established as habit that they’re most powerful.

Let people know the purpose, timing and any expectations you have ahead of the meeting. E.g. “Please read the marketing report attached and be ready for a punctual 9.00am start and hard 10am finish”. Agreements are preferable to demands

Start by thanking people for coming, stating the purpose and length of the meeting (50 minutes max, 20 minutes is often enough)

“Frame” the meeting clearly and in a way which keeps the focus, “E.g. Thank you for coming. We are all aware that profits are down and we need to come up with new sales strategies by the end of this meeting at 17.00”. Interrupt any deviations from this.

Maintain a state of “benevolent urgency”. Establish the authority to interrupt and other powers at the start of the meeting by agreement (especially with managers). Balance task and relationship focus throughout. Listen empathically and acknowledge emotions

Be specific with your requests during the meeting, e.g. “what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?”, not “what do you think?”

Use short “rounds” to gather everyone’s views, e.g. “In one sentence what are the advantages of this book cover”.

Help people separate facts from opinions – often just asking is enough.

Manage yourself and maintain a composed presence

Summarise regularly and acknowledge when the meeting is on and off track throughout

Model the behaviour that you would like from other participants

If overly long meetings are typical hold meetings standing up

If unnecessary meetings are sometimes called, ask the value of each meeting to be publicly assessed by all those who attend  – e.g. on a poster – see attached

Hold those who are late or did not do agreed preparation accountable. Often best 1-1 after the meeting. Consequences should be implemented for repeat offenders (e.g £5 per minute late to charity)

Meetings need action points or what’s the point? Who, what and by when are crucial to clarify? Reserve 5-10 minutes for this no matter what else happens.

Celebrate success and show gratitude. Appreciation is a nice way to end a meeting, e.g. a quick round of  “what’s going well?” or “what have you appreciated in others here lately?


Meeting Evaluation Form – to be publicly posted

Meeting called by:

Meeting chair:


Late / unprepared participants (no excuses):

Successful or not?

(ticks or crosses, one per person, no abstaining)


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