Make your meetings more effective.


Have you ever been to a meeting and the end conclusion was that there was none?

Well, I have and I bet so have you.

In the spirit of Monday, I began thinking about how much time we spend in meetings and some strategies I have to make them more effective. These are specific procedures that leaders can use to improve group effectiveness in solving problems and making decisions. These guidelines for leading meetings are based on ideas proposed by various scholars over the years (e.g., Basadur, 2004; Janis & Mann, 1977; Jay, 1967; Maier, 1963; Tropman, 1996; Yukl, 2006).

Leaders should…

1.) Inform people about the necessary preparations for a meeting: A problem-solving meeting will be more effective if people know how to prepare for it.

2.) Share essential information with group members: The amount of information that should be presented depends on the nature of the problem and the group’s prior information.

3.) Describe the problem without implying the cause or solution: Implying blame will make members defensive and reduce their willingness to help in solving a mutual problem.

4.) Allow ample time for idea generation and evaluation: The pressure of time is another reason for hasty decisions, and they often occur when a meeting is about to end and members desire to resolve matters quickly to avoid another meeting.

5.) Separate idea generation from idea evaluation: Research has found that idea generation is less inhibited when it is separated from idea evaluation (Maier, 1963). This can be accomplished by having two meetings or one meeting that includes brain storming (i.e., verbal brain storming or non-verbal brain storming) and evaluation separated. To give an example of the one meeting structure; a non-verbal brainstorming session allows the group to write ideas down on paper and have the leader present them to the group. Then the leader directs the group to have a short break before leading into the discussion and evaluation.

6.) Encourage and facilitate participation: It is important that all members are equally represented. In fact,  silence may indicate dissent rather than agreement.

7.) Encourage positive restatement and idea building: This procedure works even better when a member who points out a deficiency or limitation of another’s idea is required to suggest a way to correct the deficiency or overcome the limitation.

8.) Use systematic procedures for solution evaluation: One technique that can be used is a cost-benefit analysis. This should be done in an open an systematic manner.

9.) Encourage members to look for an integrative solution: When a group is sharply divided in support of competing alternatives, it is sometimes feasible to develop an integrative solution that involves the best features of the rival solutions.

10.) Encourage efforts to reach consensus when feasible: Voting is a common procedure for making a decision, but whenever feasible, the leader should encourage the group to try to reach a consensus rather than deciding on the basis of a simple majority.

11.) Clarify responsibilities for implementation: Necessary action steps should be specified and responsibility for each action step should be assigned to individuals.



Basadur, M. (2004). Leading others to think innovatively together: Creative leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 15 (1), 103-121.

Janis, I. L., & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press.

Jay, A. (1976). How to run a meeting. Harvard Business Review, March-April, 43-57.

Maier, N. R. F. (1963). Problem-solving discussions and conferences: Leadership methods and skills.  New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tropman, J. E. (1996). Making meetings work: Achieving high quality group decisions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations, 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.



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