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? They are the meeting’s purpose, stakeholders, agenda, and post-meeting reflection.

Identify the Meeting’s Purpose and Stakeholders

Every focused meeting has a clear objective. On the top of a paper, write- “Why.” This will represent the oxygen that will breathe life into the meeting. An obvious 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 for the participants and organizers. 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 the influencers.

Create the Meeting’s Agenda

Craft a clear, concise agenda. The agenda should 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 who gives everyone a chance to contribute.

Reflect on the Meeting

This is where most meeting organizers fail. They run 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.

I have attended countless ineffective meetings. I’ve even run a few of them. Reflecting on those experiences reveals 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 invite you to reflect on a past meeting, then ask yourself why it succeeded or why it failed—you will realize that most failed meetings always boil down to—the basics not being mastered.