8 Rules for Smooth Meetings

Adriana Girdler

Rules are the glue to effective and efficient meetings Do you dread the word meeting?   Do you  find they’re a time waster? This is …

Rules are the glue to effective and efficient meetings

ripples in the waterDo you dread the word meeting?   Do you  find they’re a time waster? This is common problem in lots of organizations, no matter which industry you’re in. There are some common ways to ensure your meetings are productive; such as: follow an agenda, plan it in advance and have the right people in the room. But even if you do all this, meetings can run a muck.  A key distinguishing factor in well run meetings are meeting rules that everyone follows. Use these 8 rules to ensure order and understanding for all meeting attendees.

Rule #1: You (participants) are responsible for the meeting success

Participants and organizers of meetings all need to be accountable to the successful outcome. This is not a one way street. Success is based on everyone’s participation and full attention. If you don’t remind your participants of this, they will forget.

Rule #2: One person speaks at a time

How many meetings have you attended where people are interrupting and talking over each other and the meeting gets out of control? This is why this rule is so important.

Rule #3: Be supportive of all opinions

When you’re trying to resolve an issue, it can be  hard to be supportive of everyone’s opinion. That opinion, however, may have the golden nugget that, when tweaked resolves your issue.

Rule #4: Think process not personality

When you’re in meetings think of the task at hand. If you’re resolving issues, think of the data and stick to the facts, it’s not about company politics.

Rule #5: Think of how it CAN be done, not how it can’t

I love this rule. So many times people focus on the negative. This doesn’t help anyone. Turn it around and think positively. I promise you’ll get more done.

Rule #6: What is said here stays here

Trust and feeling safe is critical for employees. In order for employee’s to excel at their job, they need to know they can be honest without ramification when in meetings. Meetings are organized for moving things forward. If employees can’t share their thoughts and opinions in a safe and respectful environment then the organization is losing out, resulting in a negative impact to the organization’s productivity and growth.

Rule #7: Details, Details, Details

If you have a meeting ensure you are detailed. If you are discussing things that need to be done, assign responsibilities and due dates. If you are discussing ideas, provide the needed time to finish the task and go into the detail needed for success. The worst is having a meeting where it only skims the surface resulting in nothing getting done (expect wasting people’s time!)

Rule #8: Phones and computer off

If you’re in a meeting, be present and participate. It’s proven that if you multi-task you are unable to properly focus on all the tasks you are trying to accomplish. You will miss out on important things. If you have to attend to your computer or phone, then don’t go to the meeting. Be present and give your full attention to whatever you’re doing. Being an active participant ensures successful meeting outcomes …remember rule #1!

Post these rules, or create your own, on your meeting room wall. At the beginning of each meeting review them. If someone should break a rule, respectfully call them on it and get them back on track to being an active participant. Meetings are productive and well worth everyone’s time when run effectively and efficiently. Meeting rules are the glue that ensures everyone remains focused on the task at hand.

What rules do you use in your meetings? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

Thanks For Sharing!

4 thoughts on “8 Rules for Smooth Meetings”

  1. Thank you Adriana
    Very concise list and I totally agree with number 5 being so important to the success of a meeting.
    To me the other factor that works is having an agenda that is set out with anticipated times attached to each item. It helps to keep the meeting moving, while still allowing for the flexibility of working on one agenda item until you get resolution.
    Dale Wilcox
    WATMEC Limited

    • Dale,
      Thanks for your comments. Yes, thinking how things CAN be done shifts our thinking and it’s amazing the ideas that we are able to generate when we remove our own roadblocks.
      Also, your idea for the timed agenda items is smart. This way when you have to reign people in you can say it’s because there is only X amount of time left to discuss the particular agenda item. No one is offended when you need to re-direct the meeting conversation.

  2. Thanks Adriana. Your post is well written, valuable and to the point – all things that I like.

    The one thing that I might add is the need to keep a meeting on topic. So often you start a meeting with a list of topics – you cover 1 or 2, and then you get off point (because something else has come up). You really have to stick to the meeting script and make sure you cover the meeting objectives. New items need to be parked for later discussions.

    Maybe another thing – it’s important to establish who is taking the meeting notes, and where/how will distribute them. It seems crazy – but, I sometime attend meetings (as a consultant) where at the end I ask who will distribute the meeting notes….and, I get blank looks. Best to establish the process and responsibilities before the meeting starts.

    Anyway, thanks again. Have a great day!

    Dale Myers, MBA, PMP
    Pinole, CA USA

    • Thanks so much for the compliment. I try to be as efficient as possible when composing blogs 😉

      Great points. I find that a parking lot is a great way to shelf ideas that go off topic. This way you can capture the idea and bring people back to the task at hand…address the actual agenda items. As well, your comment on establishing ways of working at the beginning of the meeting is also important…especially with meeting notes. I have been in a few of those meetings that you describe above. Those meetings tend not to be very productive because no one knows what to do next.

      Again, thanks for the comments. Have a productive day!

Comments are closed.

Photo of author

Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

SLAY Project Management

Online Course

5 Sections and 24 step-by-step HOW TO Videos! The only 5-hour on-line course that teaches you the PRACTICAL side of project management. This course will guide you step-by-step on HOW to successfully run a project and provides you with all the templates and tips you need to be successful.

Fab 5 Fundamentals

Free Training

Are you striving for successful projects, but get overwhelmed figuring out what elements of project management to focus on for the best results? In the Fab Five Fundamentals of Project Management, you’ll learn the five things you need to do on EVERY project to bring it to success.

Why Projects Fail?

Free Download

If you're new to projects or need a refresher, here's a guide of all the things I learned during my journey. Project success is about knowing how to navigate and stay clear of roadblocks, issues and problems. Understand the top 10 reasons why projects fail and how to avoid them.

Interested In Working Together?

We are business productivity experts. Contact us to learn how we can help your business become more efficient and increase profitability.

Join Our Newsletter

Join over 50,000 subscribers. Get the latest and the best in project management information delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow Us