Productive Meeting Checklist

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

I have recently read a book called The Checklist Manifesto - How to Get Things Right, which inspired me to write about a checklist for a productive meeting.

Executive spends roughly 40%-50% of their time in meetings and 50% of this time is a waste, I can sign this with both my hands. Changing the mindset of a "meeting based company" is difficult it is in the DNA of a modern company one factor that speaks very loudly to CEOs and Executives is a waste of money rather than time.

Whenever I was in a meeting with no purpose and no outcome I usually send a "bill" to our CEO with the amount of money that we have spent on pointless and resultless meeting. If you work 40 hours a week and you spend 20 hours in meetings of which 10 hours is wasted then 480 hours a year you could be as well sitting at home watching TV. 

Meetings are not the problem — unnecessary, poorly executed ones are the issue.

Here is a checklist on how to execute effective meeting:

  • Does this meeting have a clear purpose?

  • Is there a clear agenda sent beforehand?

  • Do we have a clear goal defined before the meeting starts?

  • Are there fewer then 10 people attending?

  • Is there someone responsible for facilitating the meeting?

If all above are answered YES then the meeting is most likely to be a productive one.

Purpose - every meeting should have a clear purpose which answers the question: Why do we have this meeting? A lot of meetings doesn't have a clear purpose or not purpose at all. We gather together talking about agenda not knowing why are we spending our valuable time.

Agenda - In businesses which are not effective in managing their time and productivity levels I have always seen invites without an agenda. I either didn't go to those meetings or asked for the agenda. This is important for both sides, me as a person who receives an invite and also for the person who is calling a meeting. From my perspective I know what is a meeting about and person calling a meeting need to think this through before sending an invite.

Goal - it has to be created before a meeting and not during a meeting. A person calling a meeting has to know what should be achieved after the meeting. It will allow you to create a proper agenda and also make sure there is a clear outcome of the meetings. The worst type of meeting are those when after an hour or two everyone just leave without an action plan.

10 people or less - Amazon has the rule of two pizza meeting, Google no more then 8 participants. As Eric Schmidt describes it: "Everyone at a meeting should be there to give their input. Bystanders are wasting time that could be spent being productive, and too many eager participants lowers the quality of the conversation. Share the results of the meeting with those who would otherwise have been observers but could still benefit from the information.".

Meeting leader - it should be either a person who has the final word or a facilitator who has great time management skills. I have always been very strong facilitator during the meetings and I believe I have saved tons of time and money for the company. Sometimes the meetings go the wrong way and we need someone who can press the breaks and stir it back to track. I am sure you all have been participating in those meetings when decisions had to be made in last 15 minutes. 

A great meetings is an art in itself. Meetings are valuable resource and can provide with amazing results but if not executed properly then it is a waste of money and time. After a meeting a good practice is to send out meeting notes and action items to all participants.

If you follow those file checklist points for any meetings I can guarantee that from now on each meeting with be fruitful.