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How To Lead A Meeting Like, Well, A Boss

As someone who barely has enough charisma to get through the day with dignity, leading a meeting can seem like a pretty daunting task. But it's something most of us have to deal with at one point or another, and whether you get out of it alive goes far beyond preparedness. According to MIT lecturer and author Bob Pozen, emails and meetings are the most severe productivity killers in the workplace. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you think back on all those meetings that dragged on too long and had no takeaways whatsoever. Read on to see how you can make these dreaded meetings a thing of the past, increase the productivity of your team, and be on your way to having Obama-level charisma (results may vary on this one).


  • Every meeting must have a leader, or someone who’s going to (1) set the agenda, (2) guide the discussion, and (3) determine actionable points & follow ups. If that person is you, then be confident and own it!
  • The first thing to determine is what type of meeting you want to hold (i.e. information-sharing, decision-making, or creative brainstorming) and understand why it's important, which affects the overall flow. For example, an idea-generating meeting should be longer and may require some materials such as a white board, markers, etc. Conversely, an information-sharing meeting should happen quickly, where participants are notified and fully aware what they need to bring to the table.
  • Before you send out those meeting invites, make sure that every stakeholder is accounted for, which means that ad hoc meetings should only take place when two parties are involved.
  • Try to book meetings in the afternoon because many studies have shown that we’re more productive in the mornings, so allowing people to get work done during that time will lend to a more relaxed meeting.
  • Before going into a meeting, make sure that you have a detailed schedule for the agenda at hand. If discussion drags on too long for one issue, move it along and come back to it at the end of the meeting, or resolve it in a following one. Also, prioritise time-consuming topics for the beginning of the meeting.
  • Following from this, if participants are stuck on a particular issue, which most often deals with deeper individualised values, try (1)restating the original question, (2) ask which side is more supported by hard facts, and (3) reconsider whether the topic of discussion is too broad.
  • If you hold regularly scheduled meetings, make sure to periodically ask the team for feedback on how to improve the flow and structure. This not only gives you fresh perspectives on how to keep things productive, but also gives participants the opportunity to contribute to the process.
  • Encourage participation from quiet participants by asking questions that everyone can answer (i.e. no right or wrong). If necessary, actively encourage participating by asking for their take on the issue without putting the person on the spot. This will get everyone on the team used to the need to contribute to the discussion.
  • Never put down dominant participants for their contribution. Rather, identify valuable points they bring up and redirect it to the rest of the group. At the same time, it’s important to maintain your leadership position by moving the conversation forward to prevent others from feeling stifled.
  • Technology can be our best friend or worst enemy in a meeting. The best practice for meeting efficiency is to ban laptops and phones, unless there’s a conference all involved.
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