From Flab to Fab! Making the Most of Your Meetings

There was a tall woman in a blue camouflage Navy uniform, with a commanding presence, coming out of the ladies room as I entered. I bumped into her. We had just finished a meeting. I said to her, “If people in my life, ran meetings like you do, my work would be so much easier.” 
I thought she’d nod and keep going. She stopped and talked with me for about 5 minutes in the privacy of the women’s bathroom at a Navy command center. 

Conversations meander in meetings. It is a hard job to keep the conversation focused. We laughed about it and also cringed a little. How about when it just goes on and on? Ugh. And nothing gets accomplished? UGH. We discussed that meeting management can be one of the hardest aspects of working in teams, but also one of the most important.

I learn and improve from people like this woman, who show me how to run meetings efficiently and effectively. Here I share my observations of her style, a few other tips and 2 helpful articles for more guidance. 

Upon reflection, what worked with her style was she: 

  • Had an agenda, which was shared prior
  • Was professional and in-charge, shown with her posture, voice and body language
  • Referred to the agenda - “Ok, done with that, moving on…”
  • Called on people for their turn to talk, based on the agenda.
  • Clarified who was following up on a task.
  • Went around the room at the end and asked each person, one by one, if they had final comments.
  • Reminded us when we would be meeting again and what tasks we needed to do between now and then.
Done! Perfection. I felt like I gained half a day!

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Invitees - Consider who needs to be there versus just needing to be informed of decisions made
  • Parking lot - Issues that come up that should be decided outside of the meeting or with a different group of people are noted, to be discussed later.
  • Stay on schedule - Start and end on time. Offer time checks (“We have about 15 minutes left.”). Meetings tend to take up the amount of time allotted, so it is typically best to keep them to 30-60 minutes to be efficient.
  • Follow-up - Assign someone to take notes with assigned tasks with deadlines to be sent following the meeting. Check in on these assignments at next meeting or in between.
  • Bring snacks - Really, if it is a high-paced group who often don’t have time for lunch, snacks help.

For more on this subject:

7 Tips to Productive Meetings

The 5 Essentials of a Well-Run Meeting

Best wishes for fabulous meetings!