Effective Meetings, Part 2 – The Leader’s Checklist 1

In Part 1, “Make sure your meetings are both effective and efficient,” I introduced the idea of effective leadership to ensure meetings are making the best use of everyone’s time.

As the leader of a meeting, it is your responsibility to clearly communicate what the meeting’s goal is and what the decision-making process will be in order to ensure support and buy-in from your team.

There are key things to be aware of and to do before, during and after a meeting to ensure its effectiveness. To help you prepare for your next meeting, I’ve put together a checklist:

  • Decide the goal of your meeting. If your meeting has no goal and no expected outcome, it has no purpose.
  • Decide the type of meeting and the decision-making process you want – autocractic, collaborative, or democratic (click here to review Part 1 and read the description for each meeting type).
  • Select the proper participants. Attendees should have a need to know what is being presented or discussed or have valuable input for a meeting.
  • Notify attendees well in advance to assure their availability. Sometimes a last-minute meeting is unavoidable. But letting yourself regularly manage by crisis will
  • communicate to your staff that they and their regular duties are not important.
  • Create an agenda with time allocated for each topic and a firm stop for the meeting end. Most meetings should not last more than 15 to 30 minutes. A meeting that is an hour or longer better be one heck of a vital gathering.
  • Stick to the established meeting agenda and don’t wander off topic and into things that are not relevant to the meeting. People will respect your meetings if you respect their time.
  • Be on time to your meeting. If you make a habit of being more than a couple of minutes late to a meeting you organized, everyone else will start assuming every meeting will start late and be late themselves.
  • Keep the meeting on task. Allow time for discussion and new ideas, but hold onto the reins and do not allow anyone to drag a meeting down a rabbit hole.
  • Elicit and encourage participation in the meeting and keep a sharp eye on body language. Be sure quiet members are heard by asking for input (they often have the most valuable things to say) and loud ones are listened to, but not allowed to step on others in the meeting who are trying to or might want to participate.
  • Take minutes and provide them to participants. Our memories are frail and good minutes easily resolve disputes over what was said.
  • If there are takeaways or tasks assigned to individuals or groups, be very clear about those details, what is expected and by when.
  • Periodically reconsider the effectiveness of any recurring meeting. Many lose their reason to exist over time.

Part 3 in the Effective Meeting series will provide a checklist to help you, as an attendee of a meeting, be an effective and efficient participant and not just a body warming a seat.

In a former life, Michael Hodgson was a store manager for outdoor retailer Adventure 16 and the general manager overseeing a team of buyers and store managers at retailer Western Mountaineering, both in California. He also acquired, developed, and ran a leading trade news service, SNEWS (, and served as its president, growing it into a very successful business that he (along with his co-owner, business partner and wife, Therese Iknoian) sold in late 2007. In those roles, as well as in one as the president of a national non-profit board, he learned the immense value of loyal, passionate, skilled, well-trained, and very nimble teams to achieve success.