Never go to a meeting without an agenda

Design an agenda for an effective meeting

  • seek input from team members-select relevant topics
  • list agenda topics as questions the team needs to answer
  • is the purpose of the topic to share information, seek input for a decision, or make a decision.
  • estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic
  • propose a process for addressing each agenda item
  • specify how people should prepare
  • identify responsibility for leading each topic-first topic is 'review + modify agenda as needed.'
  • end the meeting with a plus delta evaluation
    •     what did we do well?
    •     What do we do differently next meeting?

A Meeting has 3 purposes

1.inform and bring people up to speed input from people

3.Ask for approval


Schedule shorter meetings-go quicker as people have to prepare:

  • set timer for each part of the meeting
  • Invite no more than 8 people if u need a decision brainstorm up to 18
  • updates/receive info up to 8

Before a meeting, tell your team that silence = agreement

Meeting Prep Checklist

Have you ...

  • Identified the specific purpose of the meeting?
  • Made sure you need a meeting at all?
  • Developed a preliminary agenda?
  • Selected the right participants?
  • Assigned roles to participants?
  • Decided where and when to t hold the meeting and confirmed availability of the space?
  • Sent the invitation, notifying participants when and where the meeting will be held?
  • Send the preliminary agenda to key participants and other stakeholders?
  • Sent any reports or items needing advance preparation to participants?
  • Followed up with invitees in person, if appropriate?
  • Identified, if appropriate, the decision-making process that will be used in the meeting?
  • Identified, arranged for, and tested any required equipment?
  • Finalized the agenda and distributed it to all participants?
  • Verified that all key participants will attend and know their roles?
  • Prepared yourself?

Stuck in a terrible meeting

  • be brave,
  • play dumb,
  • be a helper and take notes

Find a root cause of meeting's lack of focus and sugest a solution.

Today is backwards day. We’ll follow our agenda—backwards. We’ll start with the action steps, move to the discussion, and then on to the reports.


Making Every Meeting Matter

  • use the word Jellyfish to identify when the meeting is drifting off-topic
  • refocus a meeting after someone interrupts
  • polite ways to decline a meeting    
    • What is the value of the meeting?
    • am I the right person to attend?
    • is meeting a priority for me?
    • can I stop the meeting - can I recommend someone else?
    • can I contribute in advance
    • can I attend only part?

How to interject

  • have we thought about...
  • did anyone mention...
  • another option we may want to consider is...
  • is it worth revisiting...

Disagre, be blunt. be cagey. be productive. 

Always end the meeting by

  • confirm key discussions + next steps
  • develop communication
  • gather session feedback

Virtual Meetings

  • turn on video for visual cues
  • cut of status updates
  • encourage collaborative problem solving
  • give each person time on the agenda
  • kill mute
  • ban multitasking
  • check-in
  • assign a Yoda - keeps everyone inline

Book to Read:

Smart leaders, smarter teams - Roger Schwarz


Bibliographical Information

Harvard Business Review: Guide to Making Every Meeting matter
2016: Harvard Business Review
IBSN 978-16-33692176

These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes

Just to let you know, this page was last updated Saturday, Jul 20 24