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How to Run a Meeting Successfully

Updated on January 21, 2013
Run a successful meeting
Run a successful meeting

What is a successful meeting?

A successful meeting has several important ingredients:

  • It starts and ends on time
  • It covers all items on the agenda
  • It allows all participants a chance to be heard
  • It meets a goal or sets a plan of action

Whether you are running a meeting for corporate executives or for the Garden Club, these tips will help you to run your meeting successfully. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting through a long meeting where one person controls the conversation, the main points are not addressed and nothing gets accomplished.

Tips for conducting a successful meeting

So how do you run a meeting successfully? Here are some tips that will ensure a productive meeting:

  • Define the purpose of the meeting ahead of time
  • Inform participants of the purpose of the meeting and what will be expected of them.
  • Start on time and end on time. Do not wait for late comers unless it's a VIP.
  • Distribute a written agenda and stick to it.
  • Have someone take notes.
  • Briefly review the last meeting or have someone read the minutes from last meeting.
  • Ask speakers to be brief and to the point.
  • Redirect any discussion that is off topic. Stick to the agenda.
  • Don't allow anyone to monopolize the floor.
  • Encourage different points of view if they are presented calmly and rationally.
  • Review main points of problem and action decided upon. Take action i.e., appoint a person or committee to take some action within a time frame,
  • Formulate a plan for the next meeting if there will be one.
  • When the agenda has been covered, officially close the meeting so that people who need to return to work can do so.

After the meeting

Follow up by sending minutes of the meeting and a reminder note to anyone who is expected to carry out a task outlining what is expected and when.

Running a Successful Club Meeting - Sample Agenda

It should be noted that business meetings are different than club meetings. The monthly meeting of the Garden Club or the Quilting Club may follow rules and format ofRoberts Rules of Order. Have a copy of Robert's Rules for referral in case there is a question about procedure.

A Sample Agenda for a Club meeting:

1. Call the meeting to order. Chairperson will call the meeting to order.

2. Roll call. Secretary will take note of how many members are present

3. Read the minutes. Secretary will read the minutes of the last meeting.

  • Ask for additions or corrections from the group.
  • If there are none, ask for a motion to accept minutes as read.
  • Ask a second to the motion. All in favor, say, "Aye." Opposed, say, "Nay."

4. Treasurer's (if any) report

  • Ask for additions or corrections from the group.
  • If there are none, ask for a motion to accept the treasurer's report pending audit.
  • Ask a second to the motion. All in favor, say, "Aye." Opposed, say, "Nay."

5. Old Business:

  • Reports from committee chairs
  • Reports from anyone who was assigned a task at the last meeting
  • Discuss any items that were tabled at the last meeting

6. New Business

  • Ask if there is any other new business.

7. Close Meeting

  • If no other new business, then ask for a motion to close the meeting. Second and approve.

Running a Successful Business Meeting - Carrying out the Agenda

Business meetings can range from very formal to very informal, but there should always be a purpose for the meeting and an agenda to keep the meeting on track. Here is a sample business meeting agenda:

1. Call the meeting to order on time! Do not wait for latecomers unless it is a VIP vital to the meeting.

2. Appoint someone to take minutes. Ask someone to take minutes of the meeting and to send them you after the meeting so they can be distributed to the participants and interested parties with your follow-up correspondence.

3. Take attendance by sending around a sign-in sheet or ask the person taking notes to take names of those present and include them in the notes.

4. State the purpose of the meeting. If the group meets regularly, briefly summarize results of last meeting, then state briefly what is on the current agenda, who will speak and how long it will take.

5. Introduce participants. In a small meeting where participants have not met, go around the table and ask people to say their name and their role in the organization or role in this particular meeting. In a large meeting, you should introduce the top VIPs and state who the general audience is. For Example, "Today we have we'd like to welcome Ms. Smith, VP of Public Relations and Mr. Jones, VP of Finance as well as department managers from the Northeast Region."

6. Old Business

  • Report on progress made on ongoing projects since last meeting, or ask for reports from committee chairs or individuals who were assigned a task.

7. New Business

  • Topics of Discussion with names of presenters or discussion leaders.
    • Topic A.
    • Topic B -
    • Topic C -
  • Summarize purpose of meeting and decisions that were made. Review actions that will be taken, deadlines and any the names of anyone who will be responsible for carrying out those actions.
  • Announce date and time for next meeting if there will be one.

8. Officially close the meeting on time so that those who need to leave can do so.

Robert's Rules of Order is an excellent guide for meeting format

When NOT to have a meeting

4 Reasons to Not have a meeting

  1. To announce one-way flow of information. You can send an email if you are not looking for feedback.
  2. To reprimand or berate people. Don't embarrass people in front of a group.
  3. If you don't have an objective. Don't waste people's time with an aimless meeting.
  4. To get people to agree with you. Talk with dissenters one-on-one, don't give them a chance to create havoc in a meeting!

Be Sure to follow up on the meeting

Follow up on the meeting by

  • sending a copy of the meeting minutes to everyone who attended as well as those who were invited, but may have missed the meeting.
  • Review who will report on projects at the next meeting, what progress is expected to be made on projects, and any assignments for the group (i.e., review Roberts Rules of Order or put up posters for the art show...).
  • Announce Date, Time and Place of the next meeting if there is one scheduled.


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    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      4 years ago from USA

      Hi Liz,

      Before retirement, I attended far too many meetings, both for work and for my personal hobbies and clubs. The most successful meetings were always those with an agenda and a good moderator who kept the meeting on track. While Robert's Rules can be rather stuffy, it does help to have some guidelines for meeting protocol that everyone understands. I am glad that I'm not obligated to attend so many meetings now!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      LOL! Funny I should come across this hub now; my husband and I have recently become more active in local politics, and joined a small, grassroots club. We have an aim in mind, and few members as yet. However, we have decided that while we will have agendas, and run meetings efficiently, we prefer to be more casual, and have banned "Robert's Rules" or other like tomes. Too stuffy and confining! ;-)

      Which reminds me--on more than one occasion, when my kids were in school, a school board meeting was 'cancelled for lack of an agenda.' WHaaaattt??? !!! How did you schedule a meeting in the first place, if there were no items for the agenda? OY!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      Nancy Owens - Being polite and respectful of others is a must if anything is to be accomplished at a meeting. It sounds like you are already on the road to successful meetings. Thanks for stopping in to read and for your comment.

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is really great advice. I belong to the board of directors in a local non-profit group. We have a rule about being polite. It is a good rule. We do pretty well and our meetings are getting shorter. We have been working to do what you just said: stick to the agenda items.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Tonymead60 - Successful meetings do depend on a good moderator who can keep the meeting on track. It sounds as if you already know the rules for running a successful meeting and accomplishing your goals. I'm sure that participants in your meetings appreciate your efficiency! Thanks for stopping in to comment!

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 

      8 years ago from Yorkshire


      thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I'm chairman of a community centre and before I started applying the rules you have here the meetings tended to get derailed too quickly and then targets were not met.



    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Mawker - I've attended many meetings, and their success has always depended on the meeting moderator having an organized agenda and sticking to it. As you've pointed out, meetings without an agenda are not only time wasters, but money wasters, too! Thanks for stopping in to comment!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Paul Kuehn - I think that presenting a one sided opinion at a meeting is a common practice. Meetings are only useful if there is a reason for everyone to participate, though handing down unpopular policies via email can also be frustrating to people who would like to vent a little. I'm glad that you found my article useful. Thanks so much for your comments and for the share!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      8 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      You have presented some very useful tips about when and when not to have meetings. My school administrator in Thailand used to have a lot of meetings during her first two years as our boss. The purpose of many of these meetings was to get all of the teachers on her side regarding some unpopular policies. After a lot of teachers started getting confrontational in the meetings, she stopped having meetings. I think we have had only one or two during the past three years. The administrator passes everything to the teachers by email now. Voted up as useful and sharing. Also Pinning.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Janismus - You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment on my article.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      8 years ago from Pune, India

      Thank you for the suggestions and tips.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      fpherj48 - LOL...We've probably all sat through our share of long, boring meetings! Glad you enjoyed my hub. Thanks so much for your comments!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City

      Stephanie. Brilliant! You have put together the perfect information on running a successful meeting. Every direction is included and explained. If ONLY all meetings were prepared for and conducted according to "Stephanie." What a pleasure meetings would be, as opposed to the usual, where we're disinterested, frustrated and can't wait for it to end!....UP+++

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Randomcreative - Successful meetings, whether in the business world or in social clubs, have one much in common, and the participants all want to complete the business at hand and get back to work (or play) as quickly as possible. It's always a good idea to keep these tips in mind. Thanks for your comments!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Sally's Trove - I agree that an hour long meeting is about the right amount of time if you want to keep everyone's attention. When a meeting time is open-ended, the purpose of the meeting is sometimes forgotten in random chit-chat. You must be a very good meeting facilitator! Thanks for your comments and votes!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      8 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      What a great overview! Every organization should take the time to review this sort of protocol on a regular basis.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      All of your points are spot on. Very valuable are the tips for when not to hold a meeting.

      I found, as a meeting facilitator and project manager, that one hour is about the amount of time needed to achieve a meeting's well-defined goals. Any more than that invites off-topic comments and somnolence.

      Up, useful, and all that good stuff. :)

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Kashmir56 - I'm glad you found this article on how to run a meeting successfully useful. Thanks so much for stopping in to read and comment!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      All great information within this interesting and informative hub to get a meeting to run successfully and smoothly . Well done !

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Midget38 - It always amazed me that otherwise capable people could not run an efficient meeting. Five hour meetings would have put me in a coma! Thanks for forwarding my article ...I do hope that people fine it useful!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Stephanie, I used to teach in a school where meetings are a few hours long and certainly, the principal did not run it like how you suggest, which is really the proper way to conduct a meeting. I could start one at 2 and end at 7 p.m. And the agenda was to talk about the achievements of her ex-students! For a full 5 hours. WIll forward this because many leaders will need it!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Mhatter99 - There's always a fine balance in running club meetings of taking care of business and making the meetings interesting and worth while. Sounds like you did a good job! Thanks for stopping in to comment!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Was master of a masonic Lodge. It was hard to get members to attend a meeting... until I made them enjoyable. Good points.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Billybuc - Haha...sorry about that! :) Having worked at a university for 20 years, meetings were a way of life. Some were endlessly boring and others were productive. The organization of the meeting leader or moderator makes all the difference. Thanks for reading and commenting on my newest hub!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Where were you when I had to sit through those endless faculty meetings while teaching. Always started late, never stuck to the agenda, always ended late. Now that I'm retired from teaching you come out with this hub. Fine friend you are. :)

      Of course this is excellent!


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