Seven Rules for Running Effective Meetings

In a recent HBR post, Amy Gallo offers some fantastic advice for running effective meetings. Here’s a summary of the rules and key points she lays out in her article:

Rule #1 – Keep the meeting as small as possible. No more than seven people.

Two major advantages of keeping meetings small: they are easier to lead/facilitate (i.e., it takes less time to prepare for them) and there’s greater likelihood that all in attendance will have both the opportunity and the inclination to contribute.

Rule #2 – Ban devices.

meetingsIf it’s important to have people’s attention, ask them to turn off their phones/email or leave them behind. Remember, you do not multi-task as well as you think you do. In addition, our devices are distracting to not just ourselves but to those around us.

Rule #3 – “Keep it as short as possible — no longer than an hour.”

People stay more focused and on task in shorter meetings. And, sure, you may need longer meetings or follow-ups for holding complex conversations and making important decisions, but remember Parkinson’s Law as you plan these: work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Rule #4 – Stand-up meetings are more productive.

Turns out that meetings in which no one sits down are about 34% shorter than sit-down meetings, yet produced the same solutions. So, stand up, go for a walk, but don’t let the format distract you from your goals for the meeting.

Rule #5 – Make sure everyone participates and cold-call those who don’t.

The idea here is simply to get input from everyone on the team. Often, for cultural reasons, language barriers, or simply an introverted work style, people don’t speak up. It takes only a little extra planning and effort, but you should get input from everyone. Often those who hold back have valuable perspectives on the conversations and issues. In addition, people — especially those who aren’t often heard — like to know that their opinions are valued.

Rule #6 – Never hold a meeting just to update people.

Don’t hold a meeting when an email can communicate the same information — it wastes valuable time and decision-making resources.

Rule #7 – Always set an agenda ahead of time and be clear about the purpose of the meeting.

Explain to participants BEFORE the meeting what the goal of the meeting is and your plan for achieving that goal.

We all know that a lot of time is wasted in meetings — and that waste can be substantial depending on the number of people in the meeting. The main point of this post and Amy’s article is this: whenever you bring a group of people together, do whatever you can to make the best use of their time — it’s good for business and good for relationships.

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