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We have all attended meetings that left us wondering why this meeting even took place. They are unfocused, badly run, and way too long. What does it take to run effective meetings?

The answer: Get the basics right!

This answer may sound too simplistic, but it’s of utmost importance. Now, you may wonder; what are these basics? These basics can be classified into what you must do before, during, and after the meeting.

Before the Meeting

This is fundamental; determine the purpose of the meeting. We attend meetings with no idea of why the meeting took place. On the top of a paper, write- “Why.” This will represent the oxygen that will breathe life into the meeting. A clear purpose will help determine a useful agenda and focus the participants on the task at hand. Next, determine the key participants. After the “Why,” knowing “Who” will join the meeting could be a great time and energy-saver both for the participants. Someone should not attend a meeting only because they are part of a team, but because their presence can make a difference. Hence, determine the key decision-makers, the stakeholders, and influencers.

During the Meeting

Craft a clear, concise, and compelling agenda. The agenda should be able to give participants a clear outline of the meeting. This is the “What” of effective meetings. Even with a clear agenda, meetings may decline into oblivion; we may have participants who talk too much, those who barely talk, and even those who veer off-topic. To remedy this problem, ensure there is a facilitator that ensures everyone participates, and make sure that no participant loses track of the objectives of the meeting.

After the Meeting

This is where most meeting organizers fail. They ran a meeting and don’t reflect on it. It’s necessary to highlight what went well, what did not, and how you intend to improve for upcoming meetings.

Why write this article? Honestly, this question has kept this article in the making for at least a year. I have attended countless ineffective meetings, I’ve even run a few of them. Reflecting on those experiences reveal to me that most meetings fail, not because of a lack of passion, not because the participants were not smart, but because these basics were not mastered. I would love to invite the reader to reflect on a past meeting, then ask themselves why it succeeded or why it failed—they will realize that it almost always boils down to—the basics not being mastered.

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