Everyone attends them, most people hate them, and few are done well. What are we talking about? Meetings! Studies show that poorly-run meetings are a multi-billion-dollar problem in U.S. organizations. Meetings are supposed to be an engine of collaboration and productivity, yet studies show that only about 50% of time spent in meetings is considered effective and useful. This rampant misuse of people’s time and energy can be prevented if we all learn how to better design, run, and participate in meetings.

Effective meetings produce useful results. Effective meetings have high participation, good energy, constructive collaboration, and meaningful conversations. In short, effective meetings are those which tap into the wisdom, expertise, and energy of the group. Effective meetings are interactive and valuable to both the meeting leader and the meeting attendees. Effective meetings stay on topic and use people’s time and energy well. Leading an effective meeting means avoiding the most common meeting derailers:

  • Don’t start/end on time
  • Too long
  • No clear purpose
  • Scope creep
  • Dominated by a few
  • Lack of preparation
  • Being “talked at”
  • Low engagement
  • Lack of meeting leadership
  • No action items or follow up
  • Low energy
  • No agenda

Leading effective meetings—meetings that matter–is part science and part art. The science is in taking care of the essential elements that go into the meeting structure. The art is in the way we think about designing our meetings and promoting positive engagement of participants. The following twelve tools and techniques are essential building blocks that will help you lead meetings that get results – meetings that are positive, engaging, and efficient. Your next meeting participants will thank you!