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4 Quick Tips to Avoid Bad Meetings

Written by Susan Leahy on . Posted in Federation News


There are few things more frustrating than a meeting where nothing gets done.  People walk out feeling frustrated, angry and upset.  Useless meetings will cause a TEAM to break down forcing them to digress back into a group that is driven by personal agendas and ego.  Bad meetings are bad news for building strong TEAMs. 

Here are a few easy tips to keep your meetings on track to support the success of your TEAM.

Step #1:  Have a pre-written agenda

Wait! Don’t stop reading.  I know you have heard this before.  But whether the meeting is formal or informal, short or long, have a written agenda and then stick to it.

Included in your agenda should be items such as:

  • Start Time and End Time

People like to know when the meeting is going to start, but more importantly when it is going to end.  Aim to start all meetings on time and never let your meetings run over.  Nothing says, “I disrespect your time” more than a meeting that runs over!

  • Participants

Having meeting participants’ names on your agenda can create accountability.  Members can’t be anonymous.  Make sure that people who are attending the meeting really need to be there. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

  • Information Items with TIME FRAME

People are good at talking. Be sure that you have a space for people to give information, but you dictate exactly how much.  By giving people a time frame, people will have to consider what information to add and more importantly what information to not add.

  • Action Items

This is where business and decisions take place.  Make certain that if there is a decision that needs to be made by the time the meeting has adjourned that everyone knows the action items of the meeting.  There is nothing more frustrating then getting to the action items and running out of time. 


Step #2: Review the agenda at the beginning of the meeting

This step seems simple but many facilitators think that since they passed the agenda out beforehand that they do not have to read the agenda aloud.  That is a very big mistake. Start the meeting by reading the complete agenda.

This accomplishes several things. 

  1. It gets everyone on the same page and ready for the meeting.
  1. Many associations have a problem with people showing up late.  Reading the agenda buys the facilitator a little bit of time so that he or she will not have to repeat as much when people walk in late, and also establishes that you are going to always start on time! 
  1. Facilitating a meeting is not an easy task and makes many people nervous.  If you are facilitating a meeting, reading the agenda allows you to do something that will help to focus you and to help you manage your nerves so you can have a successful meeting.

Reading the entire agenda at the beginning of the meeting is a great facilitation tool that many Chairs miss out on.  Read that agenda.


Step #3:  Teach “The 7 Fundamental Motions” used during most meetings.

If you are running a formal meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order it is essential that you teach your members how to use it properly.  Members do not have to become experts they need to understand the basics.  For example, in my Robert’s Rules Made Simple Online Training I review the 7 Fundamental Motions used during most meetings.

  1. The Main Motion
  2. Amendment
  3. Amend the Amendment
  4. Refer to a Committee
  5. Postpone to a Certain Time
  6. Lay on the Table
  7. Previous Question

Teach your members the basics first.  Many groups spend the year fighting with Robert’s Rules instead of taking the time to learn it.  Bring in someone to teach it or to conduct a webinar. Provide training tools such as Robert’s Rules Made Simple Solution. But remember even Robert’s Rules of Order is a team tool. It is no good if only one person knows how to use it. Commit to teaching your entire board the basics!

Step #4:  Ask for participation

Sometimes in meetings, it is not uncommon to hear from the same people over and over again.  We need to find ways to not discourage those who actively participate but find ways to encourage others to participate.  Here is an example of a couple of things a person chairing a meeting can say to stimulate discussion from people who are not participating and to manage those who are participating too much:

“I have noticed that there are several people we have yet to hear from.  Does anyone we have not heard from have something to add?”

“These are all great points but is there anyone with a different opinion we haven’t heard from yet?”

“I would like to encourage those we have yet to hear from to please share their understanding of the topic at hand?”

Great meetings include the voices of both the majority and the minority, the loud and the soft-spoken.  It is crucial that members feel comfortable and are invited to participate.

While this list can go on forever, it is essential to remember that nothing de-motivates people more then meetings where work doesn’t get done.  If you want to be a TEAM you have to run great meetings!


The author of this blog, Susan Leahy MA CSP, is a loving, powerful, committed woman.  She is a certified speaking professional as well as the co-founder of Group to TEAM Leadership Solutions a training and consulting organization that supports clients to build a “Culture of TEAM” by empowering the individual.  Susan is also the creator of Great TEAMs run great meetings, and Susan’s webinars and online training products are used by thousands of boards across the US & Canada to run more effective meetings. Susan’s has also launched “The Confident Woman Program” a movement that connects women to their confidence while elevating the condition of women worldwide.  Stronger Women Leads To a Better World!

To learn more about Susan Leahy MA CSP visit her at