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This post is one in the “Incredibly Simple Management” series, dedicated to stripping great management down to the fundamentals you need to get it done.

Meetings are necessary. The purpose of an organization is to have people work together. The purpose of leadership is to have people work together as effectively as possible. Well-run meetings are the most effective way to coordinate and motivate a group of people. Poorly run meetings are one of many terrific ways of doing the opposite.

As with any leadership activity, running a great meeting successfully is a mix of rational, check-box skills, and a mastery of human, emotional intelligence.

Master the easy ones – the rational, management necessities, and the human approaches will get easier.

Preparing For The Meeting – Management Hygiene

  • make sure the meeting has a purpose.
  • the purpose can be: decision, update or brainstorming. That’s it, that’s the whole list. Just make sure you’re clear.
  • if the meeting has no purpose, don’t call it. If the meeting was scheduled, but the purpose has passed, cancel it.
  • put aside time to create the agenda. You’re about to spend the time of multiple people. Take a few minutes make sure you are using that insanely valuable resource carefully.
  • check that the agenda matches the purpose.
  • choose the minimum number of people necessary to fit the purpose of the meeting. If you’re over five to seven people, very carefully ask yourself why.
  • schedule the meeting. Be smart: engineers come in late, people are tired on Friday afternoons, one hour notice isn’t going to work.
  • don’t change the schedule. Become known for this. People will love you for it.
  • start on time. Become known for this. People will love you for it. Again.

During the Meeting – Manage Relationships and Human Connection 

  • pay attention: face-time is the highest bandwidth communication you can have with a human being. It’s better than voice, video and massively, insanely better than email, slack and text. Face-time is incredibly valuable. Don’t waste it. Pay attention.
  • listen with the intent to understand. Listening is all about intention. If your intention is to be open and understand, you will generate respect and attention back. If your attention (for example) is to disagree, then it’s likely you’ll start a disagreement. Pay attention to how you are listening.

During the Meeting – Management Hygiene, Part 2

  • stick to the agenda.
  • finish by re-iterating decision and followup actions and responsibilities. If there was a decision, make sure everybody knows what it was.
  • finish on time. Manage the time your people spend together. Become known for it. People will love you for this, as well.

You’re going to have meetings. Make them work.