How to: Run a Meeting

The first step in running a meeting is do decide whether you actually need one.  Go here for some tips in deciding that.

After you’ve decided a meeting is necessary, there are a few key concepts to remember when planning and running it.

  • Let people know ASAP.  Give as much notice as possible so people can schedule the meeting into their plans.  Make sure to invite everyone who could be helpful, but let everyone know who NEEDS to be there.
  • Skip outlines.  They distract people and take up your valuable time.
  • Plan out times.  Decide how long you will spend on a specific section of the meeting and don’t deviate from that.  If you don’t accomplish what you need to, let people know you will return to that topic if there is time or plan another time to discuss it.  Don’t let one task take over the meeting when you have multiple things to accomplish.
  • Start on time.  You don’t want people to waste your time, so don’t waste theirs.
  • Be as brief as possible.  Some meetings need to take a few hours, others don’t.  Don’t schedule an hour meeting when it should only take 20 minutes.
  • Skip the basic updates.  E-mail out that information before the meeting.  You don’t need to waste time on things people should have already read or can find out on their own.
  • Stay on task.  Your meeting has a purpose, don’t deviate.  If other issues come up that need to be discussed, plan a different time to talk about them.
  • Give out tasks.  At the end of the meeting, people should know VERY clearly what they are supposed to do to follow up.
  • Leave numbers until the end.  If you need to talk finances or data, wait until the end of the meeting.  Nothing is more draining to a meeting, so get everything else out of the way before you get to the boring stuff.

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