How to run a meeting: 10 steps to success

20th September, 2021

morale boosting

How can you make sure your meetings are as effective as they can be?

If you have a growing business you may have several teams. Sometimes lack of communication between teams can create confusion.

For example, marketing may have no idea what sales are up to, and finance has no sense of the projects that their colleagues working on.

As a result, information that once flowed freely is being hoarded. You’ve noticed more of the blame game and complaining: “If only we’d known about X, we could have Y.”

Bringing people together with meetings is a great way to share information, but it’s important to maintain some ground rules to make sure meetings are effective.

Here are eight steps to successful meetings.

1. Set a meeting schedule

Maintaining a regular cadence for meetings means that everyone knows when they’re coming up and can plan for them. They also know what their role in the meeting will be.

Ideally you would schedule meetings for the full quarter or year ahead.

2. Decide on the purpose of each meeting

This deceptively simple step is crucial; the purpose of the meeting will affect what goes on the agenda.

3. Think carefully about who to invite

If the meeting is for a team update, then it should be the whole team.

But once your team is bigger than 10 or 12 people, it will be difficult to involve everyone in the meeting.

With a larger organisation, creating separate meetings for different parts of the business might prove more effective.

If you create separate team meetings, be sure to set in place ways to keep communication open between all the parts of the business.

You could have ‘all of business’ meetings several times a year, leadership team meetings, and guest presentations from other teams.

4. Keep the agenda specific and fresh

A standard agenda is a good foundation for your team meeting. Make sure each item that needs to be discussed or decided upon is set out clearly.

But don’t let meetings become stale.

Consider complementing regular items with occasional features such as question time, training or industry briefings.

When you’re creating the agenda, include items that are important for your team.

This is especially important if there are topics they are concerned about or interested in. Be bold and address team concerns rather than bury them.

This might feel uncomfortable, but after the first few meetings you’ll realise this helps you know what people are thinking.

It encourages people to get involved.

Circulate the agenda before the meeting. This gives people a chance to think ahead and come up with questions.

5. Involve everyone present

One sure way to turn people off meeting is for a small group to dominate the proceedings.

One of the best ways to involve others is to have them run parts of the meeting.

Another way to enliven your meetings is to ask a team member to run a training session, or report on a conference or event they have attended.

You can give them some questions to address:

  • What was the event you attended?
  • Why did you go?
  • What did you find especially interesting or valuable?
  • What did you discover that can help you in your work? How about things we can all learn from?

6. Celebrate wins and milestones

Team meetings are a great place to celebrate individual and team success.

So, whether it’s a new client, employee of the month, or an exam passed, take a moment to share good news and acknowledge your team.

7. Use a timer

Allocate a specific amount of time per person or per issue in each meeting. Don’t be afraid to use a time to make sure people stay on track and on time. A timer enables the facilitator to allow everyone to make a valuable contribution.

When sharing the agenda, note the time allocated per item in the list.


8. Allow adequate refreshment and breaks

If meetings are likely to run for half an hour or more, make sure everyone has access to water.

If meetings are likely to run for more than an hour, make sure everyone has an opportunity every 50 minutes or so to stretch their legs or go to the bathroom.

9. Delegate action points

If there are action points which arise from the meeting, be sure to write them down in the meeting. Also record the time by which the action should occur.

You can appoint someone as note-taker, and have them send out the action points after the meeting.

It can be helpful to include past action points as part of the agenda you distribute; this gives people a reminder of what was to be done.

10. Follow up on action points

This is the killer step: the only way a meeting can be truly effective is to make sure the actions from each meeting have been actioned.

Follow up each action with the delegate by the time you agreed it should occur. If the item has not been actioned, figure out why and mitigate the reason when you next delegate an action.

To keep the cycle running smoothly, at each new meeting, recap completed actions at the beginning. This way, you’ll set the expectation that actions that are allocated in meetings are always followed up on.