Tim Longhurst's Blog

Rules for Effective Meetings

March 31st, 2009 · 7 Comments


The more you like to get things done at work, the less you like meetings. At least, that’s the conclusion of researchers from the University of North Carolina:

“For those driven employees who are focused on completing tasks and achieving goals, meetings are an annoying interruption to their work and productivity; job satisfaction decreases as the number of meetings they attend increases.”

Almost all the work I do relies on effective meetings. So when fellow bald man, Seth Godin posted his suggestions for meeting innovation, I felt inspired to collate a few ideas from him, Robert Gerrish and Amanda Gore and build my own set of Rules for Awesome Meetings.

This is a draft, so if you’ve seen something work well, or have some feedback, post a comment! Here’s what I’ve got so far…


  • Have a meeting with yourself first. Do you really need a meeting on this? Can an email suffice? (Robert Gerrish)
  • Know the meeting’s intended outcomes, pitch your meeting to a co-worker and see if they’ve got an alternative route to the outcomes you desire. (Robert)
  • Require participants to prepare: always read/do something before attending meeting. Not done? Can’t come. (Seth Godin)


  • Latecomers pay a fine. (Seth – who proposes $10 in the coffee jar if you are more than two minutes later than the second-last person)
  • Meetings to be booked in increments of five minutes. No more than 4 increments, unless there’s a great reason. (Seth)
  • Bring an egg timer to the meeting. Out of sand? Out of time. (Seth)
  • Remove all the chairs from the conference room. Things will be faster if it’s more comfortable back in your cubicle. (Seth)
  • Calculate and publish cost of your meeting to the business.


  • If people are going to be ‘whining donkeys’ in meetings, that’s fine, but they should be obliged to wear special ‘whining donkey ears’. Anyone with something negative to say has to don the ears. (Amanda, who insists even nudging the ears across a boardroom table will influence the quality of the meeting).


  • Don’t leave with anything unsaid. (Robert)
  • Not adding value to a meeting? leave. You can always read the summary later. (Seth)


  • Discuss follow-ups and next actions. (Robert)
  • Short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting. (Seth)


  • Rate meetings & organisers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. (Seth)

So, I’m happy to advocate a combination of these for the meetings I attend, but what do you reckon? What’s missing from my list?

Title image credit: edited image of a photo by Clagnut.


Category: Communication and connection

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