Here is some good advice on how to run a meeting from Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice-predsident of search products.
Mayer holds on average 70 meetings a week and serves as the last stop before engineers and project managers get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
So she can be considered somewhat a professional at it. 🙂
Here it is summarized, but I suggest you head over to the business week site to check out the full explanation:
1. Set a firm agenda – they act as a tool to force people to think about what they want to accomplish in the meetings and help keep those involved focused on what they are really trying to accomplish.
2. Assign a note-taker – A Google meeting will feature three displays, on one wall a projector displays the presentation, next to it the transcription of the meeting is projected, and yet another projection of a ticking clock to stay on time. Remember to take the clock with a pinch of salt.
3. Carve out micro-meetings – Mayer sets aside large blocks of time that she slices into smaller, self-contained gatherings on a particular subject or project. This gives you the flexibility to modify the agenda just before the meeting and helps keep meetings tightly focused.
4. Hold office hours – People add their names to a board outside Mayer’s office and she sees them on a first-come, first-serve basis.
5. Discourage politics, use data – for example, Google chooses designs on a clearly defined set of metrics and how well they perform against those metrics. Designs are chosen based on merit and evidence, not personal relationships.
6. Stick to the clock – Try to stick to stick to the clock, but be flexible, it’s only a tool to assist better time management in meetings.
Give them a try if you think they’ll work for you, but note Google’s approaches might not apply or be beneficial to you, in which case use whatever works.