How to Lead and Run a Meeting

You have a team to lead, but where do you start? This article will help guide you through the process of leading and running meetings in order to facilitate your group.

The “effective meetings guidelines” is a helpful guide on how to lead and run effective meetings. The document has been created by the United States Department of State.

Vintage business man having meeting.

Have you ever been in a meeting and all you could think about was how much more productive sitting alone at your desk would be? And how much money is being flushed down the toilet as your coworkers secretly check their Blackberries beneath the table? And don’t you wish you’d followed the crew of the Enola Gay’s lead and brought a cyanide capsule with you?

Meetings are despised by most people. But it’s not the meetings themselves that make you want to draw a pencil in your eye; it’s how they’re managed. Meetings may become wasteful and inefficient without a true leader, squandering time and money while also eroding corporate morale. This, however, does not have to be the case.

A guy is capable of leading. He understands how to conduct a meeting that begins on time, closes on time, and accomplishes its goals. Here’s how to do it.

Determine whether or not the meeting is definitely required. Before you even consider organizing a meeting, determine if you absolutely need one. You should convene a meeting only if:

  • The information that would be discussed could not be communicated through phone or email. When just a one-way information exchange is required, meetings should never be called.
  • The advantages of having everyone in one space are obvious.

Make a schedule. This is critical for a successful meeting. A meeting will go off-topic and drag on indefinitely if it does not have a clear, pre-determined agenda. Then, when everyone has left and you’ve finished, you’ll suddenly realize something crucial you failed to mention, requiring yet another meeting. Make a meeting agenda that includes a detailed outline of what will be addressed and in what order. Send a copy to everyone a day or two before the meeting to let them know what to anticipate and allow them time to think about the concerns and what they’d want to add. People may also propose amendments and complaints to the agenda before to the meeting rather than during it. Make it clear in your messaging that if something isn’t on the agenda, it won’t be addressed. Paste the agenda into the email’s body. Attachments are seldom opened. Ascertain that crucial individuals will be present. If you hold a meeting when you know crucial individuals won’t be able to attend, you’ll spend the entire attempting to speak around them and saying things like, “Well, we’ll have to see what Mike has to say before we can start on that for sure.” Decisions are postponed, extra meetings are required, and you lose time bringing the MIA people up to speed later. Schedule a meeting when you know essential individuals will be available.

Before the gathering, talk to folks one-on-one about pet concerns. Even if you state clearly that only agenda topics may be addressed at the meeting, someone will always try to breach the rule by bringing up their favorite pet subject. These folks have the potential to throw the meeting off course. If you know someone has a problem that doesn’t truly effect the group, speak to them one-on-one before the meeting to prevent the problem from becoming a meeting disruption.


Bring donuts or bagels. The only thing that makes meetings a little more bearable is a tasty treat. Bring something to eat for the guests. Make a U-shape with the chairs. A conference room may be set up in three distinct ways: U-shape, circular, or lecture format. The lecture format, in which everyone sits side by side and faces the front, provides the leader maximum authority while preventing cooperation. The circle encourages equality and lots of groupthink, but without a clear leader, the debate may quickly deteriorate into a jumble of nonsense. The U-shape is the ideal balance; it allows everyone to participate and cooperate while still recognizing the person at the top of the U as the leader and able to keep things on course.

The circular, uber-democratic, let’s hug it out method has been popular for a long, and it makes everyone feel involved, but it’s also why meetings drift off topic and become completely unproductive. The fact is that hardly everyone has anything significant to say, and a strong leader is essential for keeping things on track.

Begin on time. Also, don’t rehash for latecomers. This legitimizes tardiness and shows contempt for those who made an effort to be on time.

Begin by reviewing what has been done since the last meeting. “We discussed x last time, and here’s how it’s been done.” If you don’t want people to think meetings are meaningless, provide evidence that they aren’t.

Get to the bottom of the problem. Remember that meetings are not for exchanging information in a one-way fashion. If there is any background information that people need to know in order to interact with the problems, distribute it in advance of the meeting through a leaflet or email so that everyone is informed and you can skip the milk and get directly to the meat. Briefly convey the issue or problem at the meeting, then rapidly move on to developing a solution or plan of action.

Dissolve the meeting if folks haven’t prepared for it by reading up on background material or otherwise. It will be a waste of time to go ahead. This requires some bravery, but people will be prepared the next time.

Come up with a practical answer to the problem. When participants are unable to reach an agreement at a meeting, the topic is often postponed for the time being, which suggests that the subject will almost certainly be revisited at a later date. Prevent future meetings as much as possible by coming up with a definite solution and specific measures for everyone to take. Can you break through the impasse, broker a compromise, and come up with a solution? This is where your leadership skills are put to the test.

Maintain control of the conversation. The most crucial role of a leader is to keep the conversation constructive and on track. There are numerous options for doing so:


  • Obtain input from all parties. In a meeting, having a clear leader does not inhibit input or collaboration; rather, it assures it. Without a leader, the loudmouths, who may or may not have the finest ideas, will dominate the conversation, while the more reserved will be unable to speak. Ask questions such, “Jane, you’ve had a lot of experience with that firm, what is your view of their proposal?” to bring out the quiet folks. Some individuals, of course, remain silent because they have nothing meaningful to say. A good leader understands the difference between the two.
  • Good questions should be asked. Because the leader isn’t asking the correct questions, people can’t always come up with the best answer. Pose questions that compel individuals to ponder and consider things from a different perspective.
  • Disruptions must be stopped. It’s possibly the most difficult element of the job, but a leader must discreetly silence those who are straying from the issue, whether they’re just talking too much or are completely off-topic. Wait for the bloviator to take a breath before saying anything along the lines of:
    • “That’s something to think about at another time, but let’s go back to talking about X.”
    • “How about after the meeting, the two of us talk about it?”
    • “That’s a good argument, but we need to get back on track.”
    • “Let’s leave it on the back burner for now, but we can put it on the agenda for the next meeting.”
    • “I just gave Tom the order to knock you out with a blow dart to the neck.”

You don’t want to come out as a jerk by cutting them off, but it’s better to be on the safe side. While the windbag may be a little irritated, the rest of the room will be cheering you on.

Write a summary of the meeting. Make a brief note of all you’ve done and resolved to do at the conclusion of the meeting. Delegate work and make sure that everyone understands their particular responsibilities. Do not inquire about “other business.” You’ve just opened a can of worms for yourself. Remember that if something isn’t on the agenda, it won’t be addressed.

Finish on time. If you want people to alter their minds about meetings, they need to know that they can count on them to start and conclude on time. As the leader, your job is to set the tone and keep things going so that you may meet your objectives on schedule.

Follow up to ensure that everything is completed. This is as crucial as the meeting itself. Remember that you’ll have to describe what’s been completed since the previous meeting at the start of the next one. You’d best come up with something to say.

Of course, if you’re not the meeting’s leader, there’s not much you can do to keep the meeting on track. Meetings, on the other hand, are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your prospective leadership abilities. Arrive on time, have some nice ideas, and you’ll soon be the person standing at the top of the U.




The “how to conduct a meeting step by step” is a guide on how to run and lead meetings. The article will give you the steps that need to be taken for conducting a successful meeting.

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