Holy Crap! Can you believe it’s 2022!?  Well, it’s a new year, and I’m already behind schedule. We all want to save time, right? So let’s address that ginormous time-suck: The Dreaded Meeting.

How often do you gather for a meeting — whether in a virtual or physical conference room — and then realize: this was a colossal waste of time that could have been managed in a myriad of different ways? 

Wasteful meetings are frustrating for everyone involved. They lower productivity, and they lower morale. So as we dive into our newest fresh new start, let’s commit to taking meetings with a fresh strategy, which will limit the number of meetings you find yourself in and simultaneously increase their effectiveness.


Before the meeting: decide whether or not you really need to have one. With few exceptions, a meeting only needs to happen if a problem needs to be solved, and can’t be solved any other way. It shouldn’t be just talking when that time can be spent so much more productively.

Think about it this way: a meeting is taking time away from your team that is meant for doing their work. So ask yourself, is this meeting a better use of their time? Is it solving a problem, moving forward a decision, removing a barrier… anything that can’t be solved Any. Other. Way?

If so, then proceed.

During the meeting: In order to make it absolutely productive, you must first be clear on what the problem is you are trying to solve; and trust me, it is AMAZING how often people enter a meeting unsure of the meeting’s purpose. So, be crystal clear.

  • Start the meeting with that problem written clearly at the top of the agenda.

  • Make sure everyone sees it ahead of time.

  • Read it out loud after everyone’s gathered.

  • There should be absolutely no question why they are there and what they are expected to do.

  • Then, if conversation ever veers off track, you give everyone permission to steer the conversion back to the clear goal/objective.

  • Stick to the problem.

  • Discuss it until it’s solved, you’re out of time, or it is clear what has to happen to move the results forward.

After the meeting: Here’s where it needs to be crystal clear again.

  • Everyone should easily be able to answer the question: Did you solve the problem? Not sort of, not maybe — crystal clear.

  • What decision was made, and what’s the action item/s to follow?

  • Who is responsible for executing or following up with each action item?

  • What information needs to get disseminated – by whom, by when, in what format?

If the problem wasn’t solved, everyone should be clear on what the next step is. 

  • Was another meeting scheduled?

  • Is someone in charge of getting more information — and then planning the next meeting?

  • What’s the next step?

  • Are we clear what’s needed, and who’s doing it in order to get to a point to make the final decision?

  • Do we have a person responsible for keeping us true to that?

  • Do we have a mechanism for checking in to make sure that’s happening?

See what the goal is here?

Nothing falls through the cracks. 

There is an action item for every next step, and an assignee for every action item.

Meetings get messy without structure and clear purpose. If your meetings are messy, check in with both.  And for those who are wondering what you do when a meeting has multiple items on the agenda, how do you think this applies?  

In short? Nothing changes; you simply add an element of time to indicate how long you have for each topic, but the structure and purpose of each topic plays the same. However, I would add one additional element/question.

Are you planning too much for your meeting? Should these multiple topics be multiple meetings? Maybe everyone doesn’t need to be in every meeting. But even if they do, remember this: most meetings are a colossal waste of time and go way too long to be productive (Yes! I’m looking in a mirror 😊).  With this structure, meetings become more polished, more purposeful, and more effective. People will resist them less because they are clearly governed and actually achieve things. Therefore, people are more likely to attend additional meetings because they work to help them not waste their time. And lastly, many previous meetings would likely be canceled, thereby freeing up time.

When you maintain that crystal clarity, meetings actually work.


Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash