Tips for Having a Successful Meeting

Ever thought a meeting was a waste of time? You’re not alone. In fact, one analysis found that, on average, 33% of meeting time is unproductive for most participants.

Meetings will almost always be a necessity for professionals though, especially if you work with a team. In this blog we outline the various ways that you can improve your meetings, keep your team on track, and make the most of your meetings!

Proper Planning

  • Determine if any ideas, conversations, supplies, etc. should be gathered prior to meeting start, and have that ready before the meeting.
  • You’ve probably heard the saying, “too many cooks in the kitchen.” To avoid this, limit the number of attendees for your meetings; you should be able to explain why each person is there. Too many people or having wrong people can waste someone’s time or potentially everyone’s time.
  • Every person present should contribute to specific decisions that are to be made or take action after the meeting ends. If someone is not going to be held accountable for the actions or decisions made, they should not be in the meeting. Having someone in the room to generate ideas isn’t enough of a reason to participate.


  • Have a defined meeting leader, not an assumed role, so the leader can prepare in advance.
  • Set an agenda so everyone participating in the meeting knows the primary activity or goal of the meeting. Then, STICK TO THE AGENDA. Keep the meeting focused and moving forward. Do not get distracted by off topic plans or ideas.
  • The purpose of meetings should be making important decisions, planning, information sharing, brainstorming, or problem solving.

Social support

  • Avoid side conversations. This is a major distraction and can throw off an entire meeting. If you must, gently interrupt but proactively be sure to steer the conversation back to the agenda and goal of the meeting.
  • The meeting leader should be gentle but firm. Keep the conversation focused and stay on task.
  • Respect one’s another time. Don’t waste others’ time with insignificant details. When you speak, speak with purpose.
  • Acknowledge everyone’s point and don’t interrupt.


  • There should be a measurable objective stated at the beginning, before the meeting starts. This will incentivize your team to focus the meeting toward reaching that objective. Objectives should be clear and concise.
    • Ex: Proposal Due at End of Month
      • Goal: Break into Categories and Assign Duties
      • Purpose of Meeting: Determine How We Are Going to Delegate the Work
      • Measurable Objective: Know exactly how we are breaking down the proposal, approach, logistics required, and delegate specific tasks to teams
    • Tip: Show measurable objective on whiteboard or projector so everyone is aware and reminded of the purpose (if applicable)
  • If there are not measurable goals, then another form of communication, such as a memo, may be the best way to accomplish the information distribution. Make each meeting purposeful.
  • At the end of the meeting, make sure everyone agrees that the objective has been achieved or that there has been significant progress made toward that objective.

The Big Deadline

  • End each meeting with a plan and specific tasks assigned to specific people with a deadline for completion for that action.
  • Be specific – be sure each person completely understands and can restate their tasks to the meeting leader along with the deadline for the delivery of the work.
  • Distribute a summary email that clearly states all tasks, owners and deadlines so that your entire team is accountable to each other and themselves.

Your meetings will be much more successful and productive if you stick to these guidelines. By making your priorities and goals clear and transparent, you will respect everyone’s time and provide more valuable teamwork.

Notes from: Early to Rise – Matt Smith