I have wasted half of my professional life thus far on conference calls and meetings. Meetings that should have never happened without the prerequisite of an email, an agenda, and a thorough follow up of the action items from the last meeting.

I used to be terrible at hosting meetings. I had highly detailed reports, expected everyone to be engaged, and (when the call time was around breakfast or lunch) I had no food for the people. I mean…let’s face it, everyone pays more attention when they’re spreading the sweet cream cheese from Panera on their freshly toasted bagel. Because I was so bad, even I regretted going to my own meetings.

I was in undergrad at the time majoring in Business Management and Administration when I said to myself, “I hate this. They hate this. Everyone hates this. Let’s get better.” I figured that if I had the audacity to ask for people’s time, I better make it worthwhile.

Here are my top 3 tips to ensure you have an awesome meeting:

Tip #1: Be Prepared

Nothing is worse than hearing, “Let me find these notes in my email really quick.” Take 10-20 minutes to prepare for your meeting. This includes looking at the agenda ahead of time. Refresh yourself on the pending items at hand by reviewing the minutes from the last meeting. While you’re at it, condense your report to bullet points. This will also make it easier for the secretary or the assigned recorder to capture all your greatness in their minutes. This will also give you an opportunity for you to send your report to them to copy and paste into their notes, lessening their workload and making you look like the team player that you are – way to go.

Tip #2: Limit the Discussion 

Sometimes we turn exec board meetings into committee meetings. Generally, executive meetings are for reporting, announcing, and/or voting. Discussion should be minimal unless Robert and his Rules of Order allow for it at the time prior to casting a vote. Additionally, get familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order (here’s a cheat sheet from the good ol’ Google). It may be a little formal in some settings, but just knowing how to entertain a motion will allow you to tailor your points for discussion and may even decrease the time you need on the floor.

Tip #3: Be Flexible – You Don’t Have To Start On Time

I learned this one when working in the music industry. I normally like to start my meetings ON TIME….which doesn’t exist in the music biz.

Don’t penalize people for their promptness, but also allow 1-2 minutes for small talk at the beginning, giving those chronologically challenged souls an extra minute to stroll in late and grab a doughnut.

Save yourself the headache of repeating everything and hearing, “I might have missed it because I was late, but did we talk about…”

Give people time to be great before you start pointing and clicking on your presentation.

Your Outlook calendar is your throne, make sure that you just don’t allow anyone to impact the regal sovereignty of your time. Let’s all take a note from Auntie Maxine Waters and reclaim our time in our meetings.

Cheers to productivity, efficiency and effectiveness this week.


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