Planning and Leading Effective Meetings

Effectively planning and leading meetings are beneficial for the success of employees and the company alike. Research has shown that productive meetings can have a significant return on investment for a company; however, few have received instruction on how best to plan or lead meetings. With the high levels of time employees spend in meetings, it is crucial this time is utilized in the most effective manner

Let’s Dig In

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), almost half of the workday is spent in meetings. These meetings take personnel away from alternative tasks and if unproductive, can cost the company money. These meetings may feel like a bad use of time and may have effects on performance. Fortunately, LeBlanc and Nosik (2019) have examined the critical steps in planning and leading effective meetings in the workplace.

Planning the Meeting

Business people having a meeting at work

Meetings should be scheduled to avoid interference with the main activities of the organization. Scheduling a time for meetings may aid in reducing interference with other important tasks. These meetings should also be scheduled to allow transition time to other activities. The meeting itself should take place in an environment that is comfortable and has operating equipment to aid in the efficiency of the meeting. Those invited to the meeting, or the participants, should be those who are able to contribute to the task items from the agenda. They should engage in the meeting and be responsive to feedback they receive within meetings.

Having a clear agenda for the structure of the meeting can aid in having a purposeful meeting. This agenda should be shared at least 24 hours before the meeting and should include the participants of the meeting, the location and time of the meeting, a summary of the purpose of the meeting, and the tasks that will be completed along with the estimated time each task will take. This agenda should be followed and completed within a meeting. 

There is some required work before the meeting itself can occur. Participants should be prompted to prepare for the meeting and should be aware of their roles and tasks. Before the meeting begins, the participants should be reminded of their expectations within the meeting.

Leading the Meeting

When leading a meeting, the way it begins can be crucial to its success. The leader should have a culture that encourages respect, integrity, and civility between participants. The meeting should begin on time and have a welcome statement for participants in which the rules and expectations are established and a summary of the purpose of the meeting is provided. This should take place within the first 2-10 minutes. If appropriate, introductions will occur after this.

Within a meeting, the leader is expected to manage what occurs. This includes, but is not limited to prompting participation, praising relevant contributions, asking open-ended questions, and redirecting off-task behavior. The leader of the meeting should also be providing reminders throughout the meeting on the progress of the meeting’s agenda. Notes should be taken during the meeting for the leader and participants to reflect on after its conclusion.

At the closing of a meeting, the leader should provide a summary of what occurred during the meeting, provide any necessary clarification on assignments, thank those who agreed to extra tasks, and schedule a follow-up meeting if necessary. The leader should ensure to end on time so that the participants can have apt time to transition to their next activities. Following the conclusion of the meeting, the leader should distribute meeting notes within 24-48 hours.

Next Steps

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LeBlanc, L. & Nosik, M. (2019). Planning and leading effective meetings. Behavior Analysis in Practice. doi:10.1007/s40617-019-00330-z 

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