Five simple tips for running great meetings

Planning ahead increases engagement and efficiency

Effectively running meetings can be a challenge. In a post for Inc., 11 young entrepreneurs share tips for getting the most out of your meetings.

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Set a timer and don't get sidetracked. Ryan Stephens, founder of Ryan Stephens Marketing, says most meetings don't require more than a half hour. If the meeting runs over, he says it is a sign leaders should have planned the agenda more carefully.

Ideas that threaten to distract the group can be "parked" until next time, says Patrick Linton, the co-founder of Bolton Remote.

Have a clear agenda—and stick to it. Every meeting needs an agenda, and every agenda should include two things: how long the meeting will last and what will be discussed. "When everyone knows ahead of time what topic(s) will be discussed and how long there is to discuss them, you will have a much more productive block of time," says Jonathan Long, CEO of Market Domination Media.

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Rob Fulton of Audio Luminaries adds that meeting leaders should have a rough plan of the items they want to discuss. If that list has less than five items, it is a sign the agenda does not require a full meeting.

Stand up, or even walk. Sitting down in meetings makes it easy for participants to "space out," says Derek Labian, CEO of MediaFire. "When people are standing they focus on the topic at hand, which makes meetings go faster," he explains.

Focus on decisions, partly by getting feedback ahead of time. Meeting participants should be prepped beforehand so meetings can center on making decisions, says David Hassell, CEO of 15Five. "When everyone is already informed, the team can debate important issues and create a clear plan of action instead of wasting precious time just bringing everyone up to speed," he observes.

One way to ensure that everyone's viewpoint is captured is by polling attendees, says Kumar Arora, President of Aroridex.

Break the routine, and change up participation. "Changing the location of your meetings each time you come together not only keeps things exciting, but also stimulates new ideas and innovation," says Miles Jennings, CEO of

Mina Chang, CEO of Linking the World, always brings someone with a different perspective with her to meetings. "I believe that this balance of thought leads to better long-term decision making," she says (Stephens et al., Inc., 5/25).

The takeaway: Young entrepreneurs say the key to holding effective meetings is to plan ahead, break up the routine to engage participants, and stick to an agenda.

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