The Rules of Management: Hold Really Effective Meetings
...No, Really Effective
Right, now you're sure this meeting is necessary, and what it's for, let's keep it as brief and effective as possible.
Hold all meetings at the end of the day rather than at the beginning. Everyone's anxious to go home, and it keeps meetings shorter; at the beginning of the day, everyone has hours to digress and chat. Unless of course it is a bonding meeting; you can cheerfully hold them at the beginning of business.
See how many meetings you could hold by email, phone, or one-to-one. (Cut out everyone who isn't absolutely essential.)
Start all meetings on time. Never wait for anyone. Never go back over stuff for latecomers. If they've missed something vital, they can get it from others after the meeting, and it'll teach 'em to be on time next time. Useful tip—never schedule meetings to begin exactly on the hour, always say 3:10 p.m. rather than 3 o'clock. You'll find people will always be more punctual if you set an "odd" time. Try 3:35 p.m. if you want to be really wacky.
Schedule the meeting far enough in advance—but not too far—so that no one can say they had something else to do. Confirm the day before with everyone to make sure they have remembered and can make it.
You decide who keeps the minutes—and make sure he does, and to your liking. You don't have to be bossy or aggressive about this, just firm, friendly, and utterly in control.
Make sure every point on the agenda ends up with an action plan—no action plan means it was just a chat. Or make a decision of course.
You don't do "any other business"—ever. If it's important it should be on the agenda. If it isn't, then it shouldn't be there at all. "Any other business" is invariably someone trying to get something over on someone else. Don't allow it—ever.
If meetings are getting too big—more than six people—start to subdivide them into committees, and get your committees to report back.
And most important of all—engrave this one on your heart—all meetings must have a definite purpose. At the end of the meeting you must be able to say whether you met that purpose. Oh yes, and hold all meetings on uncomfortable chairs (or standing, à la West Wing)—that speeds things up considerably.