Running Effective Meetings is A Critical Leadership Skill

Last year I attended a leadership session at my work to grow leadership capacity in the face of the grey wave sweeping our organization.   Admittedly, I’m a leadership geek. It’s grabbed by attention since before I ought to have cared.   I  remember watching national convention speeches on TV with a Slurpee in one hand and a comic in the other when the other neighborhood kids had divergent interests.  Therefore, I was surprised when a particular leadership topic caught me off guard.  It was the idea that one of the most critical skills a leader can have is to run an effective meeting.

bad meeting

This meeting is likely not run by an effective leader

The reason it resonated with me was that I absolutely agreed and didn’t see it until then.  However, I have a theory that most hiring managers and up-chain folks are ignorant like I was.  I’ve suffered though too many bad meetings, and I’ve deducde that these could have been avoided if running good meetings wasn’t too often treated like an afterthought when filling leadership positions.

Recently, I was recruited to lead a half-day professional development session, and  the topic of effective meetings immediately sprang to my mind.  Spending  3-4 hours on running a snappy meeting is exactly what I think many aspiring leaders need but are too afraid (or naive) to ask for.

blue steel

Awesome leaders have many finishing moves like including how to run a killer meeting

My plan is to attack it from before (planning), during (delivery) and after (reflective & follow-up) perspectives.  I chose the title “Effective Meetings for Really, Really, Ridiculously Smart People” to prime participants that I prefer to spice professional development with a dash of levity.  After all, when we’re temporarily de-chained from our desks, why not make learning enjoyable?

I would love your feedback.  What do you think of this premise? How about the workshop title?  What are some key items you think I should cover?

Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at

This entry was posted in Continous Learning, Practice Work, professional development, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Running Effective Meetings is A Critical Leadership Skill

  1. DarcyH. says:

    Know what a successful meeting looks like – what do you want to achieve, what would your preferred outcome(s) of the meeting be? If you don’t know, you are much less likely to get there.

  2. gsjonuk says:

    Absolutely Darcy, great point(s). One thing my workshop will explore is the design phase conversation with the client/sponsor/boss about what they want accomplished by the end of their session. I put these objectives right on the agenda and I ask participants and the client if we were able to meet them right before we adjourn. In that way, they act as measures as well.

  3. My standard 5 point checklist that I use at work:

    1. Have a written agenda distributed in advance which a clear objective. (As DarcyH is talking about)
    2. Stick to time allotments throughout
    3. Involve the minimum number of people (Carr’s corollary)
    4. Result in actionable items which are SMART – specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, time-bound.
    5. Provide written minutes which are distributed within an hour of the meeting concluding which list the actionable items.

    Those are the same standards that I hold all Toastmasters club executive and committee meetings to.

    • gsjonuk says:

      Love the Carr corollary. Indeed a pet peeve of mine is to be invited to a meeting that really has no bearing on my work. Fringe folks should be given a specific rational as to why they are invited, esp. if they are down-chain from you. I also agree with actionable items put through a SMART filter. Using that model for the meeting objectives, if appropriate to have them, is also a best practice. Point 5, is tricky for me. I agree that minutes should include actionable items and should be done ASAP after a meeting while the secretary’s mind is fresh on the discussion; however, 1 hour is ambitious for me if I am doing double-duty as a chairperson. My target is generally one day for small meetings and 1 week for large or complex gatherings; however, I see value in challenging myself to do better here. One way I could improve is by blocking time off in my calendar for minute preparation at the same time I scheduled the meeting. Anticipating and pre-scheduling follow-up is a best practice that I have used in the past and it establishes an expectation that usually gets work done while the iron is still hot.

      • As a general rule, Roberts Rules forbids someone from both chairing and doing minutes. In a Toastmasters world, for example, you will note that TI prevents an executive officer from holding secretary and club president role at once (given that the club president, by default, presides over every meeting).

        In the real world of work/volunteer life, it often doesn’t work that way. Where possible, I usually block an equal time after the meeting for the follow up tasks like minutes, etc. If you value the meeting at # of bodies x average $ rate then the expense of a chairperson taking time before/after to make sure the productivity is maximized is money well spent. In a volunteer capacity, people are made more productive by productive meetings.

        The question really boils down to whether it’s your employer that doesn’t think it’s important for you to have the time or whether it’s that you as a chair don’t see it as a priority. I think it’s a best practice but not a strict necessity. I do find that it drives prompt-er action from my participants. It’s definitely a Mike-ism.

        It shows up on my printed list as I find having it as a standing written rule prompts the conversation about it. 🙂

  4. gsjonuk says:

    Well said Mike. Thanks again for your comments.

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