6 key steps to follow when running a meeting


I have run thousands of meetings over the course of my career; frankly, I wish there were fewer. However, my experience has provided me an opportunity to mentor a person on my staff. The results of that mentorship are six key steps to follow when running a meeting.

Recently, I asked this employee to own a frustration and take action to solve it. As we talked, we determined that gathering all parties together to go over the issues and the steps needed to resolve them would be the most efficient way forward. During this discussion we uncovered that this employee had never run a meeting and was rather nervous about doing so. I took this as a training opportunity and laid out some steps to follow. If you are new to managing a meeting, these steps may help you, too.

1. Identify what problem are you aiming to solve and whether a meeting is the appropriate action.

Never meet just for the sake of meeting. There needs to be a defined purpose. If the issue can be solved by a simple one-on-one conversation, don’t pull more people in than are needed.

2. Identify who needs to attend and WHY? What does each person bring to the party?

3. Set the agenda.

The most successful meetings have a written agenda:

  • What is the purpose of the meeting?
  • What are the objectives? What do you want to walk away with?
  • What are the start and stop times?
  • Resolution/follow-up plan

4. Send out meeting invite and agenda at least a couple days in advance whenever possible.

Give your attendees the opportunity to prepare and your meeting will run a lot smoother.

5. Running the actual meeting.

  • Start on time/Stop on time.
  • Document, document, document.
    • Ask/assign someone to take notes during the meeting and make sure those notes are distributed electronically following the meeting.
  • Be calm.
  • Take charge.
    • Restate the purpose of the meeting.
    • Use the agenda to guide the discussion.
      • Explain the issue/problem.
      • Share your thoughts on resolution.
      • Open up for discussion/feedback (you may want to open discussion before you share your thoughts — depends on the meeting).
    • Keep the meeting on track; if discussion goes off on a tangent, bring it back to the purpose at hand.
    • If actions are needed, make sure it’s assigned to someone with a deadline.
      • If a policy or process has changed, who is notifying anyone impacted?
      • Who is modifying documentation in SOPs?
      • If follow-up is needed, who is doing it?
      • If an action is left unassigned it will not get done!
  • Wrapping it up.
    • Clearly re-state the agreed upon resolution.
    • If there are any action items, restate the action needed, who it is assigned to, and the agreed upon deadline.
    • Agree if any further follow-up is necessary (for the group).

6. Follow-up

As the meeting organizer, you are responsible for ensuring all action items were completed and that the agreed upon resolution is working. Maintain awareness of progress toward your end goal/resolution and if the solution didn’t work out the way you expected, gather the team and return to the drawing board. If you don’t follow-up, it implies to others that the issue really wasn’t that important to you, so keep it on your radar until a resolution is in place.

What do you think? Do you run meetings in your office? I’d love to hear the steps you follow!

Shannon Mayerl is president of Top Promotions Inc. in Middleton.

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