Photo courtesy

We’ve all been there. Maybe you are there right now, reading this blog instead of paying attention to the drivel going on around you. The mindless, pointless, waste of time meeting that must make someone somewhere feel good because there seems to be no other point to it.

The title of this post is 4 Secrets to a Good Meeting but most of what I’m about to tell you is no big secret. Just a subtle reminder of the things you already know. But if we all actually followed through, we wouldn’t need to keep saying it over and over again.

The First Secret to a Good Meeting

The first secret to holding a good meeting is to know when not to have one. Before scheduling a meeting ask yourself, “What is it that I hope to accomplish in this meeting?” followed by “Can it be accomplished through other means?”

Be honest with yourself. Most of us like to feel important or in control of some things here and there because most things are outside of our control. Is that what this meeting is REALLY about? If so, don’t schedule it.

The Second Secret to a Good Meeting

The second secret to a good meeting is not attending it unless it is absolutely necessary. If the boss schedules it, you probably ought to accept it. But even if the invite is coming from the boss and you believe your time can be put to better use, inquire with the boss. Don’t assume your presence is not necessary. Inquire.

Too many people believe they have to be involved in or invited to every meeting. Again, sometimes this is to feel important and sometimes it’s because we want to be visible and in the know. But there are many better ways to be visible and in the know without wasting precious time sitting in meetings in which 1 or 2 people dominate and the rest politely listen.

The Third Secret to a Good Meeting

Once you know the meeting and your attendance are necessary, the third secret to a good meeting is to make sure there is a published agenda. It helps if the agenda is published ahead of time. I’ve worked with people who refuse to publish an agenda until everyone is seated in the meeting. That’s usually a hint that everyone is there to hear the meeting coordinator talk as opposed to a meeting in which everyone is actually participating.

A pre-published agenda helps invitees to get a better feel for whether their attendance is truly required or not. But the primary purpose of the agenda is to keep the meeting on point.

The Fourth Secret to a Good Meeting

The fourth secret of a good meeting is to have a time keeper. It’s too easy to get off topic or long winded on a topic unless someone is tracking the time. That someone should be other than the person running the meeting. Each topic on the agenda should have a maximum duration defined and identified on the agenda document itself.

Before the meeting begins, the timekeeper is identified and it should be made clear that he or she will interrupt if agenda topics go long.


There are many more “secrets” to a good meeting, but, again, most of these aren’t secrets at all. You already know this stuff. It may help to expand on this list and publish internal rules to meetings. To get you started, here are the 4 questions to ask:

  1. Is the meeting necessary?
  2. Do I have to attend?
  3. Is there an agenda?
  4. Who is the timekeeper?

Happy meeting!