A Guide to Conducting Effective Meetings

A Guide to Conducting Effective Meetings

In my previous post, I covered how to write meeting summaries, in this one I would like to talk about meetings in general, and how to keep them effective and get maximum results. To make it easy and understandable for the reader I’ve divided important topics into five blocks: Agenda, Preparation, Time, Moderation, and Attendance. Let’s dive in:


  • “No agenda, no attenda” – always include the agenda in the meeting invite.
  • Goal and outcome – the agenda should consist of the goal of the meeting and expected outcomes.
  • Numbered lists – use numbered lists, instead of bullet points in the agenda to make it easier for the reader to refer to the needed point if needed.
  • Links and additional materials – keep the agenda link or any related files in the description of the meeting invite.
  • You can also use 5W’s framework.
    • 5W’s – make sure to cover the 5 W’s when creating the meeting agenda:
      What? Why? Who? When? Where? (as a call to action, you can also include How?)


  • Meetings are expensive – meetings are the most expensive activities in any company, as they require the work time of each participant that could be spent on something else, so invite people wisely. The more people you invite to the meeting, the more work time the company loses and if you convert this into monetary value, the result could be shocking.
  • Document – if your meeting requires complex details, create a document with the details of the meeting and clear pre-work or pre-watch/read instructions.
  • Send materials in advance – pre-read, pre-watch, or pre-work materials should be sent to attendees at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Sharing settings – make sure to set up the sharing settings to avoid comments, like “I can’t access the file”.


  • Duration – set the meeting duration wisely, keep it as short as possible.
  • Late? – don’t be late for meetings, and don’t tolerate others being late either.
  • Limit – try to avoid having more than 3 meetings per day.
  • 5 minutes – aim to end the meeting five minutes before the round time.
  • Break – if the meeting requires a long discussion (> 1h), consider having a 10-minute break.
  • Show respect – give participants time to prepare for the meeting, and send invites as far in advance as possible.


  • Meeting initiator – meeting initiator is responsible for the meeting moderation, providing the context of the meeting and the summary of the meeting.
  • Focus on the Agenda – moderator must keep participants’ attention focused on the agenda and expected outcomes.
  • Order – it is better to follow the order of the questions rather than bouncing around; this prevents the loudest person in the room from dominating the conversation.
  • Summary – a summary of the meeting includes a summary of the most important points, decisions, and assignees, as well as an action call for each item. Read more here.


  • Do your homework – come to the meetings prepared, read the agenda, and read/watch the materials attached to the agenda.
  • Prepare questions – writing down questions and listing them in advance is likely to improve their quality.
  • Early – if you are on time for the meeting, then you are late. Try to show up a few minutes earlier for the meeting.

Keep in mind

Meetings should be like salt – a spice sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful. Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation.

Jason Fried
Co-founder & CEO at 37signals
(makers of Basecamp and HEY)

What rules do you follow to make your meetings more effective? Feel free to share.