Conduct a Meeting Effectively (Guide)

Four business men conducting a meeting and taking notes.

Efficient team meetings are a critical component of effective organization.

You are going to learn how to conduct a meeting like a world class business person. We ask every business owner we interview, to rate the effectiveness of their meetings on a scale of one to 10.

Most meetings hover around a 4. If the average effectiveness of your meetings is somewhere around a four, know that is totally normal. But you need to pump those numbers up! Here is how you can bump them up to a 10. I am going to outline how to conduct a meeting that is world class, and I want you to take notes. 

Make Your Time Count

World class meetings are really a time management tool. You and your leadership team come together for a precious 90 minutes every week. That time needs to count. You will save two to three times the time you invest in a super efficient meeting. How is that possible? You will avoid train wrecks because everyone on staff knows what they should be doing. You will avoid miscommunications. Equally importantly, everyone will be accountable.

With that said a great meeting schedule takes your team through five segments. Great meetings happen on the same day, at the same time, follow the same agenda, start on time, and end on time.

You need to understand the psychology, the philosophy, and the flow of a perfect meeting.

Great Meetings Start on Time

A black and white image of a watch face.

First, always start the meeting on time. That is not ground breaking by any means. But as Vince Lombardi said, "early is on time. On time is late." If your meeting is Monday at 9:00 a.m., you and your leadership team are there at 8:55 small-talking and ready to roll. Whoever runs the meeting, says "Everyone, good news" at 9:00 on the button.

How to Segue Into the Meeting

You are going to conduct a meeting by starting with a line good news. "Good news" is a segue. It helps a leadership team transition into the meeting. It also brings a healthy dose of positive thinking to your team. Psychologically, this human touch will keep your team motivated and focused on winning. 

The good news segue takes about five minutes. Make sure everyone shares something they accomplished. After you catch up with everyone's successes, you transition to the reporting segment.

Effective Meetings Have a Reporting Segment

A man taking notes on his laptop.

The next three items on the agenda cover reporting. You are going to make sure that everything important in your business is on track and on schedule. You make sure that your "numbers" are meeting expectations, your priorities are becoming a reality, and all your employees are happy.

You are going to first review your five most important metrics for success in under five minutes. Then you will lead a strategy review in which you make sure your longer term projects for the quarter are on track.

Next you will share any important information relating to customers or employees. You want to make sure your team knows all good and bad news. It is extremely important to know what is going on with the people that support your business.

With that said, remember that you are still reporting. Make a list of any number that is lower than expected, any project that is struggling, or any customer or employee issue that requires discussion. Do not discuss during the reporting segment.

During this 15 minutes, you are not supposed to solve anything. You are reporting and building an issues list which we will come back to  in just a moment.

How to Manage Your Meeting Agenda Document

Once you have finished reporting, and extracted the relevant issues, form a to-do list that holds team members accountable for their responsibilities. You should make the to-do list apart of your meeting agenda. The meeting agenda (here are some templates) is a document your leadership team collaborates and manages together.

It is a dynamic document in which you list out to-dos, and scratch them off when they are complete.. Every week new things should be added and completed tasks should be removed. That is why it is a dynamic document. Take five minutes to review last week's to-dos to make sure the team completed them.

Make Sure You are Achieving You Goals

A dart board and a magnetic dart.

As a rule of thumb, you should cross off 90% of your to-dos every week. If your team cannot keep up there is a problem somewhere. It may be an accountability problem or it may be that you are understaffed. Figure it out. You need to complete at least 90% of the tasks you assigned last week.

The Issue Solving Segment: Identify, Discuss, Solve

It is now time to transition to the issue solving portion of the meeting. You are going to follow this procedure for every issue brought up in the meeting: Identify, Discuss, and Solve.

Create an issues list in your meeting agenda document, and begin to populate it with the work that needs to be completed that week. Make sure you prioritize the number one, number two and number three most important tasks. Do not randomly order a list and work your way from top to bottom. Focus on the most important tasks first.

1. Identify the Problem

Take your number one issue for the week and make sure your whole team agrees that it is an issue. Figure out what the nature of the problem really is. Sometimes this is easy: our printer jams every time we use it. Other issues are more complicated: our fulfillment center is costing us money because they are careless with our packages. Sometimes you will need to dig, dig, dig, dig down to get to the root cause of your problem.

2. Discuss The Problem

Business people conducting a meeting.

Once you've identified the source of the problem, discuss the issue with your team. Put every option, every solution, every idea on the table.

3. Find a Solution

You should then push to find a solution. Once there is some consensus, or the highest ranking administrator makes a decision, it is time to move on.

Once you have worked out how you will solve that issue take it off the issues list, and move it to another section of your the dynamic document that we have already talked about: the to-do list. Remember that to-dos are seven day actionable items. Do not include long term projects or strategic goals.

Next, bring issue number 2 to your teams attention. Guide them through the process we outlined above. After you solve problem two, and make it into a to-do item, transition to problem number 3. Etc.

How Long Should it Take?

A stop watch sitting on a counter top representing the importance of time.

Occasionally, you will only mange to process one issue. Other meetings will be more productive and you will resolve 10 problems. It is very difficult to predict how long the process will take. But as long as you move in order of priority, you will head in the right direction.  

You should take a full 60 minutes to identify, discuss, and solve problems. At the end of this period, there should be five minutes left. It is time to conclude the meeting. No matter how far down your issues list you have worked, end the meeting five minutes early.

End of the Meeting

You are going to do three quick but important things in the last moments of the meeting.

  1. Recap the to-do list.

  2. Discuss whether there are any messages that your team needs to send out to the rest of the organization.

  3. Ask your team to rate the meeting from 1 to 10. This organizational introspection will help you and your team self correct. 

You should shoot for an average of 8 at minimum. 8 is the minimum you should be willing to accept. If you do not receive an eight ask your team why and collect their responses. Improve next week. 

End at the 90 minute mark on the button. Your meeting needs to end on time. Your team has been sitting in there for 90 minutes. They are ready to leave. Furthermore, you do not want your meetings to disrupt other meetings in the organization. It is time to get back to the real world. 

That is how to conduct a meeting with your leadership team like a world class business person.

WealthIsaac Therrienbusiness