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How to run an effective meeting: A complete guide

Ring Central Blog


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11 min read

Updated July 2021

Running an effective meeting is a little bit like landing someone on the moon. Accounting for every variable seems impossible, and your countless attempts to design the perfect meeting never seem to play out exactly as you had hoped. But bad meetings don’t need to exist.

And yes, with a little training, you can host the meetings of your dreams.

All that stands between you and eternal office glory is this article! Learn how to run an effective meeting by following these eight steps:

  1. Develop meeting ground rules
  2. Determine if the meeting is necessary
  3. Decide who needs to be in the meeting
  4. Tailor how you run each meeting
  5. Create a meeting agenda (and stick to it)
  6. Use visual guides to encourage meeting engagement
  7. Encourage participation
  8. Open and finish strong

🌟 Make sure every meeting is effective with our set of 5 free meeting agenda templates—each one tailored for a different type of meeting.

đź‘€ Grab your free meeting agenda templates.


1. Develop meeting ground rules for your teams

Establishing precedence for how meetings are conducted is essential to having consistently successful meeting outcomes. When this is done right it gives your team the expectations they need to conduct a meeting with as little friction as possible, leaving them to apply their energy only to the topic at hand. For this to be achieved, establish and consistently apply meeting rules and expectations of how participants are to prepare, behave during meetings, and take action after meetings. This can come down to the format of meetings, the expectations of participation, the scheduling of meetings, etc. 

Here are some examples of meeting ground rules you might want to implement: 

2. Determine if the meeting is necessary

One of the easiest ways to improve the quality of your meetings is to identify what meetings you can avoid entirely. An easy way to slim down your meeting schedule is to take an audit of your standing meetings and identify what value that meeting delivers to you and your team. You may find that some meetings are without direction and that topics are better addressed in smaller groups or on an as needed basis. 

Email and messaging can often alleviate the strain for check-ins or recurring updates. RingCentral’s app offers a convenient team messaging feature that allows you to connect with your team to share the updates your team needs without having to book time on everyone’s schedule. And if you do need to have a virtual meeting, you can do that—in the same app:

3. Decide who needs to be in the meeting 

Often, it can be difficult to determine who’s actually required to run an effective meeting, leading the host to simply invite everyone regardless of whether they need to be there. In order to have a truly effective and efficient meeting, it’s important to understand how each team member will be involved—and often this means trimming down the invite list to only those who are required.

Team members to invite:

meeting value calculator

4. Tailor how you run each meeting

To run an effective meeting, you should have an understanding of your audience. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do their roles apply to the information and objectives of this meeting? By leveraging your understanding of your audience you can enhance your connection and focus your presentation style to be conducive to your attendees strengths. It’s also important to know the scope of your meeting. Are you speaking to a single person? To a small group? Or to many? Knowing the scale of your meeting along with the type of audience can only enhance your ability to relate your content to them and enable you to directly address the areas that are actionable for your audience. 

What type of meeting are you in?

5. Set a meeting agenda (and stick to it)

Once you know a meeting needs to be on the books, provide your team with the context, goals, and expectations necessary to make sure that everyone is ready to have a successful meeting. This can come in many forms, but the most effective is often an agenda.

Agenda 101

Here are some tips to build an agenda that helps you run an effective meeting:

better meeting invites in google calendar

6. Use visual guides to promote engagement 

Adding visual elements to your presentation can further enhance your meeting, making it more compelling and memorable. Using easy-to-read slides and other visual tools such as videos and charts can help your audience better understand and engage with your content. 

This goes double for presenting to remote teams. When conducting a virtual meeting, slides can help enhance your presentation and engage your audience. RingCentral’s meeting tools let you share your screen, making it easy to present slides to your participants:

better meetings with screen share

Slide design tips

better designed slides for better meetings

slide visual designs for meetings

objective-focused slide for better meetings

7. Encourage participation in meetings

A business meeting doesn’t have to be a lecture. Leveraging the unique perspectives and skills of your team can make your meetings much more efficient and collaborative. Here are a few ways to encourage more participation in your meetings: 

Organize a discussion

Meetings are a fantastic opportunity to leverage the unique perspectives, skill sets, and experiences of everyone involved. With the proper organization and leadership, a collaborative discussion can bring about a more engaging meeting and new and unique solutions. 

Create multidisciplinary teams for thought diversity

Bringing together a group of people of various backgrounds and job functions can create an even stronger team environment for involvement and collaboration. When you’re planning your next meeting, consider what types of stakeholders would contribute to the project and what unique perspectives may be an asset. 

A few tips for collaborating with a multidisciplinary team:

Ask questions 

Including questions in your presentations can help guide conversation and can compel your audience to be actively engaged. When preparing your meeting, plan out how you can ask questions, and where they would make the most sense given your audience and topic. 

The end goal of asking questions is to benefit the group’s collective understanding, and as such, asking questions can be a great tool in compelling your audience to actively engage and contribute meaningfully to the conversation. As you ask questions, you can encourage others to build and adapt other answers. Oftentimes agreeing or disagreeing with a previous question can help propel discussion even further. 

8. Open strong, finish strong

To run an effective meeting, it’s important to open and close the meeting with purpose. You want to ensure that your audience understands immediately the objective of the meeting and any further actions that need to be taken after the meeting has concluded.

The intro 

Want to have more effective meetings right from the get-go? Check out this short clip from our Better Meetings Masterclass on how to meet with a purpose:

The conclusion

What makes an effective meeting?

Congratulations, you’ve climbed the mountaintop and learned what it takes to run an effective meeting in a repeatable, consistent way. Now it’s time to add your own flair to the meetings you lead. Good luck! 

👉  Further reading: 

Explore even more meeting resources and tips in our guide to better meetings.

Originally published Jul 01, 2020, updated Jul 19, 2021

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