Business Meetings

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders
Image credit: Andy Cross | Getty Images
Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson stands inside a new Airbus A320.
4 min read

Your time is valuable and it’s important to make the most of every minute. Watching the clock, zoning out, stressing over all of the other things you could be doing -- nothing’s worse than a poorly planned meeting.

Take it from the pros: Limiting the amount of people in a meeting, appointing a leader and standing up are only a few ways top executives run successful meetings.

Say goodbye to those hour-long meetings or 30-slide PowerPoints. Turn your boring meetings into productivity powerhouses with these eight tips from industry leaders.

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Don’t plan a meeting in which two pizzas aren’t enough to feed everyone.

Don’t plan a meeting in which two pizzas aren’t enough to feed everyone.
Image credit: Alex Wong | Getty Images

Jeff Bezos’ rule of thumb: “Don’t plan a meeting in which two pizzas aren’t enough to feed everyone.” Because the Amazon CEO conducts meetings that are a “free flow of ideas,” having too many people can make it hectic and confusing.

Having a limited number of people allows everyone to contribute ideas and keep the meeting on task, reports Inc

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Ditch the PowerPoint.

Ditch the PowerPoint.
Image credit: Bloomberg

If you did your homework, you don’t need a slideshow to prove it. “I hate the way people use slideshows instead of thinking,” Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson.

Jobs’s hypothesis was that if someone knows enough about a subject to discuss it, then they shouldn’t need a bunch of slides. At Apple, he banned the use of slideshows as a way to encourage employees “to debate passionately and think critically, all without leaning on technology.”

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Put someone in charge.

Put someone in charge.
Image credit: Bloomberg

Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page sent out a company-wide email that hit on the major points of how to run a productive meeting. His first point was to always choose one clearly appointed decision-maker for a meeting.

Meetings should be focused on decisions. If there's no decision-maker -- or no decision to be made -- the meeting shouldn't happen, his email explains.

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Be in the know.

Be in the know.
Image credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg’s “common sense strategy” for efficient meetings is preparing and sending materials in advance. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how few people actually do this.

If meeting attendees get relevant materials beforehand, they’ll be in and out in no time. If everyone does their reading, there will be no need for repeatedly explaining items throughout the meeting, and you can jump straight to the point.

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Don’t be afraid to doodle.

Don’t be afraid to doodle.
Image credit: Mike Pont | Getty Images

It may sound counterproductive, but it works. Doodling can “clarify the brainstorming process,” Nike CEO Mark Parker says. Parker brings his notebook to every creative meeting to doodle new designs and jot down ideas.

It's not drawing nonsense shapes in your notebook as a means to ease boredom. This kind of creative doodling can get you to think about the task at hand and your creativity flowing.

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Invite an outsider.

Invite an outsider.
Image credit: Bloomberg

The CEO of Evernote, Phil Libin, invites a “high potential employee” that has nothing to do with a meeting’s topics to sit in and participate.

Libin recommends bringing in a department outsider as a means for employees to understand various parts of the company as well as ask questions and provide insight from a different viewpoint. In the end, it’s a win-win for everyone.

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Stand up.

Stand up.
Image credit: Bloomberg

To avoid wasting precious time, have a "standing meeting" as a way to break up your day, avoid any distractions and make sure no one “nods off.” Standing will ensure your meeting is efficient and to the point.

Take it from Richard Branson, who says he thinks standing meetings are a “quicker way of getting down to business” and making a decision.

And if you want to take it a step further, Branson encourages walking meetings too (those are best for small groups).

8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders

Cut meetings in half.

Cut meetings in half.
Image credit: Sandra Dahdah | Getty Images

Time is money, and if you’re wasting your time in an hour-long meeting that could have been 20 minutes, it’s time to reevaluate and restructure. Chop down those mindless minutes and cut your meeting times in half.

“If you plan a 15-minute meeting, you’ll find a way to get important stuff done,” entrepreneur, investor and author Gary Vaynerchuk says. “If you schedule a one-hour meeting, you’ll inevitably fill that time.”

Shorter meetings boost efficiency and get people focused on the matters at hand.

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  • 8 Simple Tips for the Best Meetings From Your Favorite Business Leaders
  • Don’t plan a meeting in which two pizzas aren’t enough to feed everyone.
  • Ditch the PowerPoint.
  • Put someone in charge.
  • Be in the know.
  • Don’t be afraid to doodle.
  • Invite an outsider.
  • Stand up.
  • Cut meetings in half.
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