Effective Meetings Part 1

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I make meetings run efficiently?
  • How do I get meetings to finish on time?
  • What should I put on an agenda?

How to do you feel about most of the meetings you attend? Are they productive, or generally considered a waste of time? Do you attend too many meetings? How do others value the meetings you run? If you are like most managers we know, your experience in running and participating in meetings is less than ideal.

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Great show Mark and Mike! I am looking

Great show Mark and Mike! I am looking forward to using the Meeting Agenda Template, but could not view it when i clicked on the link. Would you post a PDF version of it as well? From there, I could make my own.

Thanks so much for your insights and willingness to share them with us.

I am headed into my 3rd week of 1 on 1s and they keep getting more productive. The first ones were a little awkward, the light bulb went off as to their power during the second round of meetings, and I am really looking forward to this week's meetings.

I also started the practice of doing them with my franchisor's representative. She was a bit puzzled about why I wanted to talk with her weekly, but after our first meeting (which we do over the phone) I could tell she was convinced this was a great idea. We talked about the company's goals and goals she had for her owner/operators. She let me know what her bonus targets are and I told her that those targets were my goals as well. How effective will our relationship be now that she knows my organization is trying to help her receieve her bonus and next year's raise?

I'll keep you posted on my businesses successes in the weeks and months ahead. I know that this information is going to help drive those results.

Warmest Regards,


Thanks, Paul ... Mark and I are

Thanks, Paul ... Mark and I are thrilled (although not surprised) that the one-on-ones are working out so well for you. I particularly enjoyed the story about using with your franchisor's rep ... how cool! Imagine, both of you aligned on the same objectives ... I wonder who's going to get the bulk of her assistance going forward?? ;-)

Thanks again for the feedback ... hopefully this will encourage others who haven't done so already to try their hand at implementing one-on-ones. They work!

I posted a PDF version of the agenda template for you ... here's the link:

We hope the meeting agenda coaching works as well for you as the one-on-ones!

Management Podcasts Check out these

Management Podcasts

Check out these podcasts! From Manager Tools comes this 2 part podcast on holding effective one-on-ones. And this one called Get out of Jail! (about making meetings more effective) This Cranky Middle Manager podcast is called Getting Behind the Numbers.

Hey guys, really enjoyed this podcast

Hey guys, really enjoyed this podcast (Get out of Jail). I try to follow a formal agenda and structured meeting format also. I typically don't use the times and that is because I like the ability I have to manage the discussion...extend where necessary, cut-off if needed.

I have used a timed structure in the past for one case - the very predictable, round-table formatted status meeting. I used to have a manager meeting I chaired with four other managers reporting important items that the rest of the management team needed to know weekly. Each person had 5 minutes to speak with a two minute overtime if necessary. This meeting was held to no more than 35 minutes (five managers x 7 minutes max) and I think we went over a minute or two one time. I signalled speakers at the five minute point and then cut them off at seven. It was very efficient.

I also agree that if the biggest hat (coming late) into the room wants an update, it is OK to take about 30 seconds to do that, however, starting on time is VERY important. Hey, it's an imperfect world...

I also bring a printed agenda to every meeting (with few exceptions) that is usually what was imbedded in the Outlook or Notes meeting memo/invitation. If at all possible, I also send out attachments of important documentation ahead of time and ask participants to at least give a quick read so that they can come to the meeting prepared to contribute, not have to take up valuable time reviewing docs for the first time. I don't do it enough but I also try to communicate the deliverables I want from the meeting ahead of time so everyone has some idea of what we want to actually come out with. I also email notes after every meeting around to all participants: Current status (of project/operation), Key points and decisions made, Next steps.

I am looking forward to your future podcasts....given the difficulty in getting projects "restarted" after they are in the ditch (something I, as a management consultant am asked to do quite a bit), I think you could do several sessions on assessing projects gone wrong and what to do about them. Another good subject would be "setting up and running the 'strong' Project Management Office". Many of my clients have them but they are not organizationally strong enough and less effective. What about use and misuse of tools like MS Project? Keep it up guys...

Mark, Michael - I just listened to

Mark, Michael -

I just listened to this podcast. Superb! :-)

In addition, it's nice to be able to say to some of my friends: "Listen to that TODAY, it's not only perfect, interesting and applicable, but one of the guys is actually a pilot too!".

Reminds me a joke: "How do you know somebody is a pilot?" "Don't worry, he will tell you." :-)

Hope you don't mind I give them DVDs with all public shows, just to make them start listening faster.


Filip, Thanks for the kind remarks


Thanks for the kind remarks ... no problem at all on the DVDs.

Tail Winds! :-)


The way that I have handled top

The way that I have handled top managers coming to meeting late was to lock the door and then the managers either use their keys or knock on the door to attend. This usually is enough to send the message. It has become a joke at times about the lock door rule. But the outcome has been team members coming to the meetings early and many times we are able to start early because all were in attendance early.
I have had our mill general manager come in late and ask for and update. I simply agreed to do that at the end of the meeting as we agreed upon in a previous meeting. It is one of our meeting rules.

Thank you for a good product! Seems

Thank you for a good product!

Seems like the "Effective Meeting Agenda Template" file had the wrong ending. At least it doesn't work on my Mac. But, if I change it form .dot to .pdf it works.


Magnus, Thanks for letting me know!


Thanks for letting me know! Seems to be working for me (although I'm using Windows) ... so not quite sure what's happening here. Hopefully someone else will chime in here with their experience.



Mark/Mike, I really like the idea of


I really like the idea of requiring meeting agendas or you don't have to go.

Do you have any suggestions about how to implement such a requirement?


Paul- Ahhhh. A tough one. First,


Ahhhh. A tough one. First, don't chair your own meeting without sending them out in advance.

Second, at other meetings, politely ask for one when the meeting request comes your way. When you are supposed to be at two meetings at the same time, choose the one with the agenda.

I know, it's a small thing. But we really believe that as more start to do it, the "better" meeting culture will gradually take over.

And because I know your boss, I'd say...mention this to him. He might not mandate it, but I think he could encourage it in such a way that at least in your area there, you could make some headway.



Question about being the facilitator for a direct


I would like to implement this model on a series of client meetings in which one of my directs is doing the job I used to do last year (functional design). That being so, I really need her to focus on the content more than me. On the other hand, I still need to be on the meetings to pitch in when things get more complicated.

Given this setting, I feel that the most appropriate role for me is that of a facilitator and that she should be totally focused on the content discussion. I would be there to enforce the ground rules, make sure we move forward, and I could take notes too, making sure that agenda items are always wrapped up with action items. Although this doesn't feel like a terribly efficient use of my time, it would definitely be effective. I also expect that she will learn the process herself and use it alone when I'm not there.

What do you think? Any obvious mistakes here?

Thanks for such a great show. I have just begun listening to the casts, beginning with the "Basics". The amount and quality of information and insight you have distributed over these years is just amazing.

Best regards,



Love the pod casts!  I recently came across them while searching the web for how to hold better meetings.  The 'Effective Meetings' cast was exactly what I was looking for, I learned a lot.  I am now looking forward to catching up on 7 years worth of pod casts.

A meeting tip from our organization - meetings should be scheduled for 50 minutes.  A 1 hour meeting ensures that everyone in that meeting will be late for their next.