11 Tips to Run More Effective Meetings

A woman is leading an effective meeting in an office space.

Updated October 2023

Meetings are crucial for businesses and teams—there’s no doubt about that. However, not every meeting is necessary, and not every meeting, though necessary, is effective.

Occasionally, meetings are so ineffective that they don’t even serve their intended purpose, wasting precious time and resources for everyone involved. These unfortunate, counterproductive scenarios happen when meetings are planned and executed with no clear goals or objectives.

Let’s talk about what makes a meeting effective and worth everyone’s time and energy. We also want to offer 11 practical tips to master the art of running effective meetings with desired outcomes.

Just like your next meeting, we’ll make sure this blog post is worth your time.

RELATED: The Case for Canceling Your Next Meeting

Why It’s Important to Hold Effective Meetings

Unproductive meetings cost businesses $34 billion a year, leaving businesses with depleted resources and lackluster results.

Effectively run meetings are an essential part of any working organization. They provide an opportunity for team members to come together and collaborate on tasks, discuss progress, and make decisions.

11 Tips to Lead Effective Meetings 

Productive meetings keep your team on track and help them accomplish their goals faster. For effective meeting strategies, follow these 11 tips. 

1. Evaluate if a Meeting is Needed

Before scheduling a meeting, evaluate if it’s necessary by considering the desired outcomes and if there is a way to achieve those outcomes without the disruption of a meeting. Once you determine that you need to schedule a meeting, you should ask the following questions to help plan and run effective meetings:

  • What is the goal of the next meeting?
  • Will there be a set meeting agenda?
  • Who will be the meeting attendees?
  • Do we need to have an open discussion among the team?
  • Can the plan be accomplished without a meeting?
  • Can this be an email?
  • Can this be a Microsoft Teams or a Zoom call?

If you can’t answer these questions with clarity, or if the answer to the last three questions is “yes,” you might cancel or postpone the meeting.

Too often, a work meeting is conducted without taking the time to evaluate whether it’s necessary. The decision to conduct an unnecessary meeting is a prime example of poor time management and lack of foresight from leadership.

If you decide that a meeting is necessary, ensure that everyone who needs to attend is included on the invite list. And, if possible, try to keep the meeting duration short. In the invite, let attendees know the goal of the meeting and a close estimate of how long the meeting will last.

2. Make Sure the Right People Attend

Ensuring that the right people attend your meetings lies at the foundation of the event’s success. It’s a simple thing to check, and it will be hard to succeed if the wrong people attend your meetings. Make sure all the key players are in attendance and no more than that.

If some team members don’t need to be there, that’s fine. There will certainly be situations where some people attend meetings in shadowing or learning situations—and that’s okay, too. Just try not to make it a habit of inviting people to meetings when they don’t need to attend. You don’t want to keep from working on their daily tasks and projects for no reason.

Kristin Morey, Director, Enterprise PMO at Insight Global, also recommends ensuring that everyone at the meeting knows the other participants. She suggests allowing a few moments for everyone present to give a brief introduction of themselves, including their job title and role in the meeting.

3. Create an Agenda with Specific Goal or Action Items

When leading effective meetings, make sure to have an agenda with clear ground rules and action items. When creating your own agenda, allow time for discussion. The goal is to take action—not just chat.

Having an agenda is a great way to keep everyone on track during the meeting and can help minimize distractions or unnecessary topics. If something does come up that is not on the agenda, take note of it and address it after the meeting. This will help keep things moving in the right direction and avoid confusion. You can always circle back!

Sending the outline ahead of time is ideal. This way, attendees know precisely why they’re coming and how much time needs to be dedicated to each issue at hand. This will help keep your meetings on point while avoiding confusion or overlap.

4. Choose Your Meeting Space (Virtual or In-Person)

The meeting space is important. Can people attend virtually? Or do they need to be in the office? Or can it be a mix of both?

Make sure to clearly define where the meeting is and the expectations for attendance, too. For instance, is any degree of multitasking acceptable? According to a 2021 State of Virtual Meetings survey, 90 percent of virtual meeting attendees perform some multitasking. If it isn’t acceptable, lay this out in your agenda as policy.

If your meeting involves technology—especially in hybrid meeting environments—troubleshoot any issues five to 10 minutes beforehand. Make sure the connections are stable, and employees can call in. Get your IT team involved if necessary.

With in-person meetings, pick somewhere quiet and equipped with necessary items, like screen-sharing capabilities, marker boards, enough seats, and more.

5. Have a Primary Facilitator

This person will ensure the session runs smoothly, stays on schedule, and ends on time. They should keep track of time, take notes, and ensure everyone stays on task. If you’re the one facilitating the meeting, familiarize yourself with all tools needed (chat software, notes apps, etc.).

6. Send a Reminder

Ideally, a meeting invite is created days before the meeting is needed. The day of the meeting, send a reminder to the meeting’s chat—that might be Slack, Teams, an email thread, or something else—about the meeting’s objective and any necessary items the team members need to have ready.

7. Encourage Participation

Encourage participation from everyone in the meeting! Don’t let a few people dominate the conversation—try to get others involved by asking questions or inviting comments. Healthy involvement from everyone can boost meeting productivity.

Without participation, it’s hard to run an effective meeting. Make sure that everyone in the office has time to share their thoughts and opinions on relevant topics in an unforced way. While this may take slightly more time than a quick-fire brainstorming session, you will receive valuable feedback from your team members—which can only make your meetings more effective.

At the same time, if no one has anything left to add, don’t force conversation! It’s okay for meetings to end early.

8. Start and End on Time

For employees, nothing is more frustrating than attending a meeting that starts or ends late. Make sure to begin and end meetings on time. If something comes up that causes the meeting to run over, let everyone know before it happens to adjust their schedules if necessary. It might not be necessary for everyone to stay overtime, too.

Remember: only have the people there who need to be there. Respectfully ask the employees if they have the time to stay a couple extra minutes, and if they do, great. If not, address the concern in a message or email later on.

9. Send Meeting Notes and Recap After the Meeting Ends

After the meeting has ended, send out notes to recap what was discussed during the meeting. This will help everyone remember what they talked about and serve as a reminder for those who missed it. In addition, this is very helpful if someone needs to step into another person’s role or take over their responsibilities.

Follow-ups remind people of action items they need to complete after the meeting, too, which leads to…

10. Create an Action Plan for the Next Steps

The meeting agenda should have a section at the end for a clear action plan of the next steps for all the meeting participants. This is so everyone knows exactly what they need to do to meet their goals. If you don’t have all these details fleshed out before your team leaves, it makes it harder for them to succeed since they won’t know how or where to start.

Rather than setting more meetings for checking in about progress updates all the time, there will be clear instructions on what needs to get done if something comes up.

11. Ask for Feedback

Receiving feedback from meeting participants will help further streamline the process of running more effective meetings. As the meeting leader, you can gain insights into your efficiency and delivery of information. Feedback can also help you and the entire team generate more ideas and find more ways to succeed.

You can also do some self-evaluation to see how you feel about your leadership in meetings. Ask yourself a few questions, like the following:

  • Are the team’s goals moving forward during meetings?
  • Do the employees feel they’re getting time to speak and share in these meetings?
  • Are they being heard?
  • Are your meetings inclusive?

Asking for regular feedback from your employees on how the meeting went is a great way to refine and improve such discussions going ahead. 

READ NEXT: 7 Tips to Running Inclusive Meetings

Successful Meetings Are Intentional

Not much is worse for team morale than persistent meetings that achieve little or nothing at all. Prevent this and other issues before they begin by leading effective meetings with clear agendas, robust communication, and decisive action plans and follow-up!

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.