Effective Meetings, Part 3 – Attendee guidelines

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.  In Part 2, “Effective Meetings, Part 2 – The Leader’s Checklist,” I created a checklist for meeting leaders to ensure that meetings are well-planned, well-executed, and making good use of everyone’s valuable time.

However, no matter how well a leader prepares for a meeting, that meeting can quickly become unproductive and a complete time-suck for everyone involved if the attendees don’t take the meeting seriously.

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

    • If you are included in a meeting you should assume your presence and participation are important to the process. If this is not clear from the meeting agenda, ask for an explanation.
    • Arrive on time. Calculate the hourly rate of the meeting attendees sitting around waiting for you to see if being 15 minutes late is really a big deal or not. Being on time shows respect – and saves money.
    • Turn off your smartphone, iPad (unless you are using it to take notes and ONLY to take notes), and even your email on your computer. Arrange to not be interrupted during the meeting. And yes, we shouldn’t have to say this, but glancing at your smartphone, iPad or computer during a meeting and checking email means you aren’t really listening, communicates that you don’t really care, and is an indication that perhaps you should not have been included in the meeting at all as clearly you are not important to it.
    • Listen while others speak. If you are looking at your computer or iPad or smartphone to check an email or text you are not listening to others speak.
    • Only one person should ever be speaking at a time. If you are trying to always jump in or are thinking about your response while the other person is talking, you are not listening or letting others speak.
    • Do not engage in cross talk or holding your own mini-meetings within the larger meeting. It is not only disrespectful to the meeting leader and other attendees, it is also distracting and a waste of time.
    • Stick to the issue when you speak and do not deviate from the topic of discussion. Get to the point.
    • Do not dominate the meeting. You are in the meeting presumably because your views and talents are valuable to the company and the meeting organizer. However, the same holds true for every other attendee. Spend at least as much time listening as you are spending sharing your views.
    • If conflicts arise, keep it professional. Courtesy and respect for each other will prevail. Never speak to other attendees with a condescending tone or one that makes it clear you think their idea is not worthy of merit.
    • Take your own notes, especially when decisions or assignments pertain to you.
    • Remember, always, you are part of a team and a process in a meeting and that once a decision is arrived at, even if it is not one you necessarily agreed with, you need to accept that decision and outcome is a collective one and do your part in its implementation.

Put the above into practice and you will quickly realize that being a valuable part of a well-run meeting will increase your company’s productivity, profitability, as well as your own outlook of meetings themselves.

Part 4 in the Effective Meeting series will take a cold, hard look at the cost of meetings, and give you a means to calculate the cost of your own meetings – something that can be very sobering especially around budget-crunch time.

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.