Meetings Can Be Better

We spend much of our days in meetings of one type or another. Good meetings can energize your team, catalyze action, and strengthen relationships. Bad meetings can do the exact opposite, causing confusion, frustration, and loss of morale.

If you want to have great meetings, there are a few common mistakes to avoid. By designing, facilitating, and participating in many, many meetings, we’ve figured out the five big biggest meeting mistakes not to make:

  1. No goal. The most important question to answer when planning a meeting is: why are you pulling people together? Is it to make a decision? Brainstorm options? Create a plan of action? Synthesize information? Each of these goals leads to using different tools and structures, which leads us to the second mistake…

2. No design. You may have heard the saying, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” We say: a meeting without a plan is just a recipe for frustration. Having a clear plan for how you will use your time to reach your goals is a critical component of a good meeting.

3. Nobody in charge. Someone has to be responsible for guiding meeting participants through the design. This person can change during the course of the meeting or can even be shared by more than one person, but every meeting needs a leader.

4. The wrong people. Make sure everyone in the meeting actually needs to be there - like that they have something to contribute to the conversation or are needed to make a decision. With too many people or the wrong people in the meeting, conversations can get bogged down and energy can be low. Having a clear goal and a meeting design will help you figure out who needs to attend – and who can read the notes later.

5. A bad room. Hosting your meeting in the wrong space can be disastrous. Remind us to tell you the story of hosting a meeting in a windowless restaurant mezzanine with no wall space, loud air conditioning, and no parking. Making sure participants are comfortable – and the space works with your design – is critical.

There’s so much more to say about how to avoid these mistakes and create better meetings. We hope you’ll join us for Better Meetings, our one-day meeting design and facilitation workshop held on Friday, June 7th in Research Triangle Park, NC. Register today at

— Heather