by Colleen Kettenhofen

“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier
than the people who have to wait for them.”
E.V. Lucas

  1. Have an agenda. Start out with an agenda handed out to the appropriate people at least 72 hours in advance, listing time, date, and place of meeting.
  2. Set ground rules. Let everyone know at the beginning of the meeting that you specifically plan to stick with the allotted time frames and topics in the agenda. This is the key.
  3. Appoint a timekeeper. Make an announcement ahead of time stating exactly how many minutes each person is given to speak or share ideas. Appoint an individual as timekeeper and literally give that person a “timer” that goes off if someone runs overtime. This is beneficial in brainstorming sessions if someone goes off on tangents, or monopolizes the meeting.
  4. Appoint a secretary. Appoint a secretary who will write down the minutes, what was discussed in the meeting, and distribute this to everyone within 48 hours of the meeting ending.
  5. List assignments. In the agenda, state exactly “who” is doing what. For instance, “John Smith, Customer Satisfaction Report, 9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.” List it as such in the agenda. Again, announce at the beginning of the meeting that you plan to stick specifically within the given time frames. This will set the tone for the entire meeting.
  6. Coffee and refreshments. If certain individuals are responsible for bringing refreshments to the meeting, list their names in the agenda as well. This will serve as a reminder to them in addition to letting everyone know that food will be served. In my workshops, managers often tell me that “nothing boosts morale or team building better than free food in a meeting.”
  7. Begin and end on time. Nothing reduces morale like a one hour meeting that ends up lasting two hours. The biggest complaint I hear from my participants about their organization’s meetings is that their meetings “start late, and usually run way over time.” When I’m about to begin training at a company, one thing I often hear is, “In our organization, meetings start late, so don’t be surprised if people aren’t on time.” Employees become conditioned to think it’s acceptable not to be punctual. Also, end the meeting on time. Better yet, end early. People’s attitudes will change if they start attending meetings that are short, productive and get results.
  8. Assist each presenter with their audio-visual equipment. To reduce nervousness, arrange to arrive early and help any speakers ahead of time with their equipment. Nothing minimizes nervousness about public speaking like being prepared. One central skill to effective leadership development is to ensure a smooth running meeting. You want to look professional and in control.
  9. Summarize. As stated earlier, when the meeting adjourns, follow up with a summary and send to all appropriate people within 48 hours. This serves as a reminder of what was discussed, and it’s also beneficial if you have “difficult” people who frequently say, “I don’t remember that being talked about in the meeting.” This way you can refer back to the minutes.

Lastly, lots of managers and team leaders tell me if you really want an effective 15 minute meeting, consider taking the chairs out of the room. Give everyone clip boards to write on, along with paper and pens. Standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable. This helps the meeting stay on track…fast!

“The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.”
Robert Orben

November 27, 2005

You are free to reprint or repost this article for use in your newsletters, association publications, or intranet provided Colleen Kettenhofen’s contact information (name, website, and email) is included with the article. Colleen Kettenhofen is a Phoenix, Arizona motivational speaker, trainer, & co-author of “The Masters of Success ,” featured on NBC’s Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, video clips, and e-newsletter, visit Colleen’s area of expertise are leadership, managing people, life balance, difficult people, presentation skills. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars.


She can be reached at contact information listed below:

Colleen Kettenhofen

(971) 212-0479


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