in Career Development, Improvement & Development, Leadership, Leading People, Leading Projects, Process Improvement

25 Lessons Learnt on Conducting Productive Meetings

  1. Long meetings are not neccessarily productive. Same for frequent meetings.
  2. Infact they are counter-productive because people get drained in a long meeting.
  3. A meeting without an agenda (purpose) is not meeting but just a time-pass.
  4. Simplicity is the key when it comes to meeting. Meetings have to be simple.
  5. Quick meetings that conclude with actionable items energize people to go back to their desks and swing into action.
  6. Meetings should do either of these – educate, share, plan, update or decide. Read this.
  7. Meetings are a great way to build great teams, share commitment and demonstrate leadership. Read more from Steve Roesler
  8. One way meetings are never effective. Interactivity is the key. Having fun is the key. No one enjoys serious-type meetings!
  9. Asking right questions is the tool to provoke thought process of participants.
  10. Face to face meetings are far more effective in terms of comfort building. That’s what Esther Derby thinks too.
  11. Discussions are fine but they cannot be eternal and somewhere decision needs to be made. 
  12. If needed, discussion and decision making can be done in different meetings. People can evaluate information shared during discussion before deciding.
  13. Playing a contrarian in a meeting can bring out better insights when discussing.
  14. Silence is concurrence and people need to speak up and express. Anyone who does not contribute in a meeting is not needed there.
  15. Bringing laptop/mobile phones in a meeting means you have enough to distract you from the core agenda. That’s what Johanna Rothman also has in her meeting rule book.
  16. If all participants are not needed all the same time, a few of them can join in the meeting sometime later. Michael Wade also thinks that meetings of more than 12 people is undesirable because personal dynamics become difficult to manage.
  17. Not documenting minutes (bulleted list of discussed items), action items and deadlines means no one will do anything about the actions decided.
  18. People will only take a meeting as seriously as the host takes it.
  19. Meetings have to focus on positive. Negatives may be discussed but digging graves of past actions just results in toxicity.
  20. Shouting or getting angry in a meeting is a sign of weakness. We don’t conduct meetings so that our blood-pressure shoots up. We conduct them for making something happen.
  21. Meetings should only be done for things that impact all participants. Discussing one to one specific things with someone in meeting will leave others uninterested.
  22. Being punctual is important. Anyone who enters later than 5 minutes after scheduled time should not be allowed. In all probability, he will start in the meeting with incomplete perspective. No one has right to waste everybody else’s time.
  23. Meetings is all about culture – people emulate behavior of people at the top. Effective meetings by the top management will model right behavior for others and frame the meeting culture of an organization.
  24. Meetings need not be formal all the time. An informal chit chat with a team member over a cup of coffee to understand, educate or decide can be far more effective than 10 people sitting in conference room doing heavy discussions.
  25. Anything over 60 minutes is a long meeting with higher likelihood of being an unproductive meeting. Okay, lets keep it 90 minutes! 🙂

Other great references:

Image Courtesy: Corporate Express Meeting on Flickr
Cartoon Courtesy:

Comments are closed.


  • Effective Meetings: A Round Up November 5, 2009

    […] the team) are a great forum to inspire action, instill a sense of urgency and get things done. I have written earlier about effective meetings and there are other great authors who have written about it. Here’s a […]

  • QAspire Blog - Quality, Management, Leadership & Life! » Saturday High-Five: Posts I Loved Reading Last Week November 5, 2009

    […] Meetings for Disaster 7 by the GREAT Nicholas Bate Nicholas Bate is the king of thinking with lists. He presents a short list comprising of only 7 items that make disastrous meetings. You might also like reading my older post on 25 Lessons Learned in Conducting Productive Meetings. […]

  • QAspire Blog - Quality, Management, Leadership & Life! » Thoughts during a poorly planned meeting! November 5, 2009

    […] A few days back, I compiled a list of 25 things I learnt on conducting productive meetings. […]