About to schedule a meeting? Try asking yourself these 5 questions first

By Rebecca Orbeck

Have you ever left a meeting feeling a sense of accomplishment and joy? And if so, what made the difference in that meeting versus other times?

As a member of Results Washington’s Lean Fellowship Program, I had the opportunity to facilitate meetings with executive leadership, as well as be a participant.

We all want meetings to be as productive as possible. Most of us have heard suggestions around having an agenda, keeping track of time and limiting mobile devices.

In my work, I’ve found it’s also very beneficial to consider a few key questions beforehand:

  1. Does this issue warrant a meeting or can the message be done by email?
  2. Who really needs to be there?
  3. Can you pare down the time by 15-30 minutes and still accomplish the goal?
  4. Can you outline specific decisions to be made ahead of time?
  5. Do you have a follow-up action plan once the meeting is finished?

By answering these questions you may be able to eliminate the meeting all together, or incorporate just those folks who have valuable input and decision making authority to maintain motion. (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has a “two pizza rule” for keeping meetings small: Never have a meeting in which two pizzas couldn’t feed the entire group.)

Creating succinct guidelines to holding your meetings can have a positive effect on the players in the room and get tasks accomplished.

Last and never least, a little humor sets the tone for a meeting and when people feel more at ease they are engaged. Remember, keep it clean!


Rebecca Orbeck is a member of Results Washington’s Lean Fellowship Program.