Dec 4, 2012

Successful Meetings

Successful meetings are possible. With forethought and planning, your meetings will use attendees’ time wisely and accomplish important business goals.
Structure meetings to ensure effective results. Every meeting must have:
•       A written objective.
•       Crucial stakeholders’ attendance.
•       A circulated agenda.
•       Beginning and end times.
•       A written summary with action items, fixed responsibility and follow up.

A written objective: You need to look at the end before you know where to begin. What do you want the participants to do when they leave the meeting? This helps determine your objective. The objective should be clearly stated in writing at the top of your agenda.

Crucial attendees: The success of your meeting depends on participation from all of the stakeholders.

A circulated agenda: With a pre-circulated agenda, everyone knows the objective of the meeting, which topics will be discussed, who is responsible for the various topics and how much time the meeting will take. Every agenda should have subjects in sequential order, with a time allotment and moderator for each. Keep on task! This is the moderator’s focus. When a question is raised or statement made, re-state to avoid confusion. Make sure everyone is listening to the person speaking, with no side conversations. The moderator must control the discussion to stay on topic. If an important issue is raised not germane to the topic at hand, table this to an offline task force.

Begin and end on time: Be respectful of attendees’ commitments, and wrap up the meeting within the allotted time.

Provide a written summary: The note-taker provides a written record to each participant. Action decisions must be noted in writing. Affix the proper person’s name to the action, along with the deadline completion date.


  1. In my time, I have attended many meetings that were a complete waste of time, all the way around. The attendees leave saying, 'What was that all about?'


  2. As you know, one of my pet peeves at the lab was one manager (long since gone) who didn't want to stick to an agenda or allotted time for discussion. Some people would be allowed to go on and on about things, and I recall meetings sometimes going 30-45 minutes over the one-hour plan. This was incredibly frustrating for most of us, especially when nothing ever seemed to really get resolved. It's in everyone's best interest, including the efficient functioning of the department, to have an agenda, have an action plan, and STICK TO IT.


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