How to Conduct a Meeting

So you want ideas about how to conduct a meeting.

It is ironic: Meetings are critical to the life of any company – without them, any organization could hardly subsist for a prolonged period of time; nevertheless, a great number of executives don’t seem to like them because they waste too much time in ineffective meetings.

There are hundreds of books about meetings, and there are thousands of web sites that tell you how to conduct a meeting.

This web page does not pretend to give you everything you need to know about how to conduct a meeting – the three criteria that shape the focus of this web page are:

  • First, the type of meetings we are referring to here, are those meetings held by a team made up by the boss and her direct reports.
  • Second, we are talking about a team made up of a number of people anywhere between three and twelve persons.
  • Third, we only offer you the fundamental guidelines about how to conduct a meeting that you will want to keep in mind when designing a meeting – this is not a thorough checklist.

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    Ground Rules:

    Ground rules are the agreements that team members have reached, about individual behaviors they are convinced are appropriate, for maximum meeting effectiveness.

    Hence, if you are the team leader, you want to involve all of your direct reports in developing such rules, in order to build commitment to them.

    You only have to do this once, and as time goes on, perhaps your team may want to improve / update such rules.

    Running meetings without ground rules is like driving on the city streets without a transit code of rules and regulations – there would be accidents everywhere in no time at all.

    Some examples might include: hold one conversation at a time, don’t interrupt, start and end on time, etc.

    Tactical Decisions versus Strategic Decisions:

    Tactical decisions are decisions that executives make every day, where the effect on the organization is relatively minor, and issues are of immediate concern. How to conduct a meeting

    Strategic decisions are decisions that have a considerable impact on the performance of the company.

    As a general guideline – for order and clarity sake – you want to keep them in separate meetings; and should you decide to mix them in the same meeting, make sure everybody knows about it ahead of time.

    As a general rule, tactical meetings should be short, decisive, and to the point – whereas strategic meetings should be given the necessary time.


    Be clear about the meeting’s objective. Participants must be able to articulate the meeting’s purpose so that there is clear focus for everybody, otherwise, participants will wander in different directions.


    If you want to have a successful meeting, some authors claim that an agenda should always be a mandatory item.

    But others insist that pre-made agendas for tactical meetings are useless; they argue that in tactical meetings – in order to guarantee the agenda’s relevance – the agenda should be made on real time about what all team members are actually working on, and about current company performance goals.How to conduct a meeting

    For strategic meetings however, an agenda is usually mandatory.


    Well ahead in advance, it must be clear to everybody who will need to be present; and attendance should be enforced by the team leader as well as by the rest of the team members.


    To have an effective meeting, you need team members to really express what they think, regardless of whether they agree or not with the issue at hand. How to conduct a meeting

    Otherwise, you will become surrounded by direct reports that only tell you what they believe you want to hear – you will be encircled by yes men and yes women. How to conduct a meeting


    Candor facilitates conflict.

    For meetings to be productive, conflict must be a key element – especially in meetings where strategic decisions are to be made.

    For more information about conflict management and decision-making, take a look at our managerial decision making process page.


    This point is obvious, but it is worth repeating it due its significance: Use time wisely – make sure that the meeting time is used well. People care a lot about both meeting length and when they are scheduled.

    Pre-meeting Communication:

    Consider the following:

  • Advance agenda if appropriate (let participants know as far in advance as possible what topics will be talked about)
  • ParticipantsHow to conduct a meeting
  • Time and place
  • Research needed
  • Preparation of materials
  • Requests for any special needs

    Post-meeting Communication:

    At the end of the meeting, make sure all team members are crystal clear about reached agreements.

    Also, agree about what exactly will be communicated (as a result of the meeting, e.g., decisions made), by whom, and to whom.

    How to conduct a meeting is not rocket science, it only takes a little bit of practice to run highly successful, productive, and engaging meetings.

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    To keep on learning about other useful management and leadership skills, go back to the previous page, or click here to continue reading.

    To learn more about the skills you need to manage the performance of your direct reports, go to our Management Skills page.

    To learn more about the skills you need to lead the performance of your entire organization, go to our Leadership Skills page.

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