Stop the Meeting Madness

Simple steps to make your next meeting more productive.
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Effective Meeting Preparation

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Continued research focused on employee engagement provides startling numbers for percent of employees disengaged, 52% and actively disengaged, 18% (Gallup, 2016). These astonishing statistics alert leaders to the need to focus on engaging with employees in a positive way. Effective use of scheduled meetings is one way to engage team members and connect them to the larger mission to move the organization forward.

Meetings provide our teams with opportunities to share information to ensure a common message, demonstrate transparency, and actively problem solve with the team. Information that serves as a notice or reminder can be communicated by memo at the meeting or outside of the meeting. Meetings can be used to discuss issues that are interfering with the smooth operation of a department, level, or organization.


When meetings are unproductive, team members are often wondering about the purpose of the meeting and the importance of their participation. To create clarity for all team members, we suggest attention to integrating the elements below when scheduling and facilitating meetings.

Successful meetings have the following elements:  


Effective Meeting Preparation in 6 Steps


In collaboration with your team, identify accepted norms that will guide the behavior of all participants.



Provide the agenda 24 hours in advance of the meeting. 

  • All materials and the agenda is shared in advance of the meeting to support preparation for the meeting. 
  • A start and end time is listed on the agenda. 
  • Use the elements of efficient meetings to guide agenda creation. 

Hold the meeting following the Guidelines for Effective Meetings. 

  • Stick to the agenda.
  • Remind participants of the why for each agenda item.
  • Review action items and take-aways.

Assess the quality of the meeting.

  • Assessing the meeting can be done by asking team members to rate the meeting’s effectiveness on a 1-5 scale. Another technique is to directly ask if participants have recommendations for improving the next meeting. 
  • Use the assessment information to improve the meeting.  
  • Share the assessment information through the minutes of the meeting notes.

The Silent Start

To ensure productive meetings, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos doesn’t use presentations. He recommends starting each meeting with at least 5 silent minutes for each member to review a memo in preparation for the discussion or meeting. Although this can sound awkward at first, Bezos notes several benefits: this time inspires the undivided attention of attendees, provides direction, reduces misunderstandings, and allows attendees time to think and make notes to contribute to the conversation. Leaders who have used this tactic with their teams have noticed more meaningful conversations, increased collaboration, and shorter meetings. Try a silent start during your next team meeting.

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