Guidelines for Joyful Meetings

When was the last time you attended a well-run meeting? Did you feel inspired, productive, connected, focused, and happy that you attended? Now think of meetings you’ve attended that are a waste of everyone’s time. Did you feel distracted, bored, frustrated, and unvalued as time was wasted? Time is one of our most precious resources. Yet more times than not, we suffer through inefficient gatherings that don’t accomplish a worthwhile goal. It’s time to revolt against dreadful meetings and turn them into joyful experiences. How?

Practical Pointers

Like many of you, I participate in many meetings. As a trained meeting facilitator and Certified Management Consultant®, I have a few guidelines for making work meetings more worthwhile for everyone.

1. Clarify purpose. Establish the purpose of the meeting. What do you want to accomplish? Is there an envisioned outcome? Sometimes it’s better not to have a group meeting at all, but rather meet one-on-one with people. Do we really need to have a meeting?

2. Establish an agenda. Create a list of items to be discussed. Keep the agenda short. Allocate time per agenda item rather than the meeting length. Send out the agenda with the meeting notice so that people can come prepared. Clarify what work should be completed before the meeting and brought in.

3. Create the invitation list. Who is critical or required to be at the meeting? Who is optional? Don’t invite everyone — just those that contribute to the purpose and have a role. Keep the invite list small.

4. Give notice. Send out a meeting invite. Get the meeting on the calendar. Some meetings require a certain amount of notice.

5. Start on time. End on time. This shows respect for the people attending.

6. Prepare. Come in with your thoughts. To save time during the meeting, you might send questions and comments ahead of time.

7. Facilitate. Appoint a facilitator. That person doesn’t necessarily need to be the CEO or the chairperson. Ask if it’s okay to share facilitation responsibility. If sharing that role works, then take responsibility to contribute and keep the meeting on track and help the facilitator. Gather the energy of the people into this space and time. Keep the meeting moving. Ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute. Pass the ball to someone else to share. Summarize a discussion topic and then move on to the next agenda item.

8. Agree on rules of order. Do you use Roberts’s Rules of Order? It’s perhaps the most widely known set of rules offered to facilitate and manage meetings. Sometimes a simplified set of rules is more appropriate. That’s why Colorado local governments, for example, established Bob’s Rules of Order.

9. Communicate clearly. Gather your thoughts before speaking. Summarize your points.

10. Set a timer. Have a person who keeps track of time and will alert the facilitator to move on. This person can be a big help to the chairperson or facilitator.

11. Record. Appoint someone to take notes and document the important decisions made and the next steps. Who will distribute them?

12. Evaluate. In some way, gather feedback on how the meeting went and what can be done to improve it. How are people feeling at the end? Use these inputs to turn dreadful meetings into joyful gatherings.

13. Optimize cadence. What regular meetings do you have and how often do they convene? Verne Harnish in his book, Rockefeller Habits, says “To make more than just a lot of noise in your business, you’ve got to have rhythm. And the faster you want to grow, the faster you have to pulse. At the heart of executive team performance is a rhythm of tightly run daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual huddles and meetings — all of which happen as scheduled, without fail, with specific agendas.”


Let’s work together to turn dreadful meetings into joyful experiences. The results are better outcomes and more fun!

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D. is a tech and cybersecurity-savvy C-level executive, 3x tech entrepreneur, Certified Management Consultant (CMC®), and Certified Corporate Director (NACD.DC) who is the Managing Director of Government Sourcing Solutions.   She is the former State of Colorado Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Colorado CIO of the Year.  She researched, authored, and speaks about her best-selling book Pursuit of Passionate Purpose:  Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life. 

Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

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