11 tips for changing the meeting culture: a short guide for new leaders

It’s hard to find anyone who loves meetings. Why? Because our experience of them is usually negative.

Ask a colleague why they hate meetings and you’ll probably hear a combination of: they start late, they run long, there’s no purpose, there’s no outcome, the information is irrelevant, I could have been getting important work done, they are a waste of my time.

It’s such a shame that despite all this, meetings are and probably always will be an essential part of doing business. We need them.

That said, we can definitely do them better. Here are a few guidelines for new leaders who want to change the meeting culture.

11 tips for changing the meeting culture

  1. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if a meeting really necessary. Maybe you can communicate your message in some other way.
  2. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if every invitee will get value out of attending the meeting. If not, leave them off the invite list and give them an update later if they need it.
  3. Before scheduling a meeting, develop an agenda that includes a start time, finish time, the meeting’s purpose and a list of topics of discussion. Include this agenda in the meeting invite, or send it out as early as possible.
  4. Start on time no matter what!
  5. If you scheduled the meeting, you lead the meeting. Every meeting needs a chair.
  6. Keep to the agenda. If it’s not on there, it can be discussed off-line or at a future meeting. If a topic is really important, get a majority of people in attendance to agree it’s urgent enough to discuss now, and get a majority to decide which agenda item it should replace.
  7. Keep a list of topics for discussion either off-line or at future meetings.
  8. Not everyone needs to be in the room for the entire meeting. Give people the option to stay or leave once the topic that concerns them has been discussed and if no other discussions will bring them value.
  9. Forget about keeping minutes. Instead, keep a list of Action Items that includes a deadline and allocates responsibility to someone in the meeting.
  10. No phones or laptops allowed. Leave them at the door unless information needs to be accessed during the meeting.
  11. Finish on time, no matter what!

Do these things (especially 4 and 11) and people will love coming to your meetings and you’ll start to enjoy them too.

Did you enjoy this article? Was it helpful? If so, you’ll probably like The Monthly Review. It’s a curated email newsletter that I send out once per month with the best articles, stories and resources from around the web that help you to be a better leader. It’s free, there’s no spam and no bullshit. Just click here to sign up.


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