The Right Way to Run a Meeting

Run a Meeting© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings.”

Thus spake humorist Dave Barry, and many of us would agree. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Some tips for having a good one:

  • Start and end strongly.
    Running a productive meeting isn’t rocket science. As Denver-based consultant Teri Schwartz notes, much of it boils down to opening and conducting every meeting with a purpose and closing it with a plan for “going forward.” Problems arise when people forget this. “It’s like flying a plane,” says Schwartz. “Most crashes happen at takeoff and landing.”
  • Pick a leader.
    Four years ago, Cleveland’s KeyCorp bank adopted a new principle: Always assign someone to lead. “The worst thing you can do is go into a meeting with no one in charge,” says the bank’s senior EVP and chief risk officer, Charles Hyle. “It turns into a shouting match.”
  • Think small.
    Be realistic about what you can accomplish. “You can’t solve world hunger in an hour,” Schwartz says. By the same token, keep the number of attendees manageable to stimulate discussion. “When you have too many people in the room,” says Hyle, “everyone clams up.”
  • Direct, don’t dominate.
    “People hate it when they can’t get their work done because they have to go to somebody else’s meeting,” says Columbia Business School professor Michael Feiner. So encourage others to speak up and get involved, especially junior staffers. “They need to believe it’s not his meeting or her meeting, but ‘our’ meeting,” Feiner says.
  • Lay down the rules of engagement.
    Everyone should understand who will take notes and how decisions will be made. Remember that consensus is typically a bad thing. “It means there isn’t enough dialogue or debate,” says Feiner, “and that’s the lifeblood of any innovative organization.” Jon Petz, the author of Boring Meetings Suck, suggests assigning follow-up tasks during the final five to ten minutes, then reiterating them later in a group e-mail so there’s no confusion.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.