Successful business meetings

Are meetings at your workplace a productive use of staff time? Or are they a frustrating exercise in boredom or chaos? Successful meetings share common traits, and meeting planners can make theirs productive by following a few simple guidelines.

Technological options for meetings that can save travel time and expense:

Virtual meetings

E-mail meetings

Instant messaging

Audio conferences

Streaming media

  • Make sure there is a good reason to meet. Can the issue be handled in other, less time intensive ways? Is there clear benefit for employees to travel to the meeting place?
  • Invite the right people. If key decision makers are omitted the outcome of the meeting may be compromised. If too many of the wrong people attend, the discussion or outcome may not be clearly focused.
  • Prepare. An agenda and factual handouts that illustrate the issues will contribute to reaching the desired goal.
  • Run the meeting according to principles of good communication. Be cognizant of the clock. The chair should have a strategy for moving the meeting along before he/she even enters the room. Key people need to speak, and the chair should see that they are given that opportunity.
  • Define the outcome of the meeting. The chair should have a clear idea of what he/she wishes to accomplish in the meeting. When that goal is met the meeting is over.
  • Follow up. Minutes of the meeting or an e-mail letting all attendees know the outcome of the meeting is important for continuing involvement in the project.

Expensive staff time can be most productive if meetings are carefully planned.

Taking minutes of meetings
Joanna Gutmann.
London ; Philadelphia : Kogan Page, 2006.
Minutes are vital to the success of any meeting. Participants rely on them for information they may have missed, those who could not attend can see what was decided in their absence, and the action points act as a timely reminder.
Meetings, meetings and more meetings : getting things done when people are involved
Simon Ramo.
Los Angeles, Calif. : Bonus Books, c2005.
The first definitive guide on the principles behind making meetings more effective--whether as a participants or as the leader.
Roberta's rules of order : sail through meetings for stellar results without the gavel : a guide for nonprofits and other teams
Alice Collier Cochran.
San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, c2004.
Cochran, a consultant for nonprofit management support organizations, challenges nonprofit leaders to retire Robert's Rules of Order and adopt a simpler, friendlier, and more effective method for conducting meetings. The method incorporates elements of informality, dialogue, and decision-making options beyond majority rule, allowing users to create more flexible, democratic organizations. Annotation #169;2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Meeting & event planning for dummies
by Susan Friedmann.
Hoboken, NJ : Wiley Pub., c2003.
Meeting #38; Event Planning For Dummies is a practical step-by-step guide to the strategies and techniques event-planning professionals use to bring people together. This comprehensive resource covers all the angles -- from the little details to the big picture -- to make sure your business meetings and special events come off without a hitch! Book jacket.
The big book of meeting games : 75 quick, fun activities for leading creative, energetic, productive meetings
Marlene Caroselli.
New York : McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Games and activities to help keep meetings energized and participants involved

"The Big Book of Meeting Games "offers meeting leaders 75 short, challenging, and fun activities to accomplish specific meeting objectives. From force-field analysis to fishbone diagrams, it transforms oftenintimidating facilitation and decision-making tools into quick, engaging activities that can be used successfully in virtually any business context. Meeting participants will become more involved, more creative, and more productive through games and exercises that allow them to: Break the ice with unfamiliar employees Engage and energize for more powerful, valuable input Effectively solve problems and voice their solutions


Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff