You don’t want to be that person who is known for conducting boring or pointless meetings right?  You know those people…you dread going to their meeting because nothing meaningful ever gets accomplished.  Or it takes two hours to get anything figured out.  They’re those people who hold meetings to feel important…at least that’s how they’re perceived.  You never want to fall into that category.  Most meetings are boring, only semi-productive, and are often held for self-serving purposes of the person who called the meeting.  And how many times have you sat down to a meeting only to find it’s a meeting about when to meet?!?

Below are seven rules that I’d like to discuss that will get you on the path to being known as that guy who conducts meaningful project meetings. Following these can help make the meeting more productive, more organized, and more enjoyable for those attending.  And, you won’t be labeled as the ‘boring meeting person’ going forward.

Send out a meeting agenda in advance

Send everyone an agenda via email with any anticipated action items that you may need specific attendees to address.  That way, no one is caught off guard when you call on them and people can come prepared to provide meaningful project updates.  You don’t want to end up having an unproductive meeting and just need to call another meeting to get the information you really need.

Start and finish the meeting on time

Your attendance and participation level will be better if people know you have a reputation for getting right to business on time and that your meetings don’t run on forever.  Start it on time, be productive, and then end it.

Release everyone as soon as business has been conducted

When the meeting is over, close it out with a brief verbal summary of action items and let everyone know when you plan to meet again.  And then end the meeting.  Save the idle chatter for the desk or water cooler – you don’t want to be the guy with a reputation for wasting everyone’s time.

Don’t repeat everything for latecomers

Meeting Agenda

Avoid rehashing everything for the people who come or call in late.  If you have to update someone on a key point that has already been discussed in their absence, do so quickly.  And if they missed their time to discuss their specific tasks, then move them to the end of the line – get back to them after you’ve gone through the rest of the team.  If you have a reputation for being on time with your meetings – something that is unfortunately rare these days – then hopefully you won’t have too many problems with people arriving or calling in late.

Limit the meeting to project management issues

Don’t let your project meeting turn into a forum for a few members to hash out detailed design discussions.  Those need to occur in another meeting.  Try to recognize when the side discussions start to get out of hand and ask those individuals to call a separate meeting to discuss.

Cancel a meeting if you believe there’s nothing new to discuss

If you’ve set up a meeting but there’s nothing new to discuss or what you were going to discuss has not happened yet or doesn’t make the meeting a necessity like you first planned, then cancel it.  On the flip side, be careful not to do this too often.  Otherwise people will come to expect your scheduled meetings to not happen and they will either come unprepared or not come at all.

Publish brief meeting notes that emphasize action items