On meetings

Before a meeting:

  • Ask yourself: do we need a meeting?
  • Be clear on the purpose of the meeting: eg are you trying to align on something or create something? Are you sharing information or wanting to resolve an issue/disagreement? Is it purely focused on work/business, or is there a social purpose?
  • Plan the agenda to match that purpose, including the intended outcome of the meeting overall (which is linked to your mtg purpose) or — for longer mtgs — of each agenda item
  • How long do you need to achieve that purpose?
  • Some folk struggle with back-to-back meetings. How about starting your meeting at .05 or .35, to ensure people have at least some break? (This was a tip I got from James Cattell. With the same objective in mind, I was setting meetings to finish at .25 or .55, but they often over-ran and the planned break between meetings never happened — much better to change your start time.)
  • If you’re setting up a recurring meeting, always have a date when the series ends so that you review whether the meeting is still required
  • Decide what you think will constitute good practices/behaviours for this meeting (eg cameras on? what can you do to make the meeting inclusive?)
  • Sort out meeting roles — who’s going to do what to make this meeting a success?

Sort out your meeting roles:

  • Make sure you’ve got someone to chair the meeting, to be a ‘referee’: their job “is to shape the meeting to meet the requirements of the agenda and the expectations of the participants”
  • Designate someone to take notes in the meeting
  • Get the right people involved (the people in the room are more important than any process)
  • Right size the number of people to the purpose of the meeting
  • Include only those people who have got a clear role (listening and receiving information can be an important role)

During a meeting:

After a meeting:

  • Send the notes from the meeting to the broadest possible set of appropriate people, after removing confidential or sensitive topics.
  • Talk to people and find out what they think worked/didn’t work — this is partly about building relationships and valuing people over processes, and partly about ‘reflecting on how to become more effective, and then tuning and adjusting accordingly’

Further reading

The guidance above is distlled from/inspired by (stolen from?):

Remote & Hybrid meetings



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Richard McLean

Richard McLean

Senior Director @ElsevierConnect doing product strategy implementation & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, & digital stuff. Personal acc’t.