Running Effective Meetings, The MDC Group

All companies, teams, and projects need meetings, but they should be well-planned and time limited. Often people complain about how meetings interrupt workflow and sometimes waste time. Therefore, organizers must understand how to plan and run productive meetings. By creating an agenda and following certain rules, meeting coordinators dispel the idea that meetings waste time.

The MDC Group has effective meetings by incorporating their core values into each meeting and using an agenda-building tool, the Level 10 Meeting agenda from EOS Worldwide. The guide, based on the book, Traction, By Gino Wickman, gives valuable tips on planning and running the best meetings. It recommends that a meeting agenda should include an announcement section and a list of subjects to discuss, with time limits for each meeting section and some time at the end to assess how things have gone.

Start on Time

Experts, including those at EOS, stress that starting precisely on time matters. That means everyone should be in place, chatting and getting comfortable a few minutes before the start time. Starting every meeting on time will discourage people from showing up late. On the other hand, if you often start meetings five or ten minutes late, attendees begin to come late, figuring they won’t miss anything. This scenario sometimes snowballs with more people arriving late and the start getting pushed further and further from the scheduled time. Unfortunately, not starting on time can mean not finishing on time or not covering everything planned.

Plan the Agenda

The meeting organizer must create a well-defined and organized agenda, with situations to discuss and problems to solve. They should set time limits for each meeting section and assign a timekeeper to keep things moving forward. EOS recommends starting with 5 minutes of good professional and personal news. They suggest finding some things to announce that make people feel upbeat, whether reporting an attendee’s birthday or an uptick in corporate sales.

The next period could be about presenting reports and statistics. It might be sales figures, profit, and loss, the number of new clients, or any other business statistic appropriate for a company. Set a time limit for these, too.

The bulk of the time will cover challenges and problems that must be discussed and solved. If there’s bad news to report, like a problem with the supply chain or a sales dip, you can discuss that. Have enough subjects on a list to make the meeting worth everyone’s time, but don’t necessarily expect to cover everything. Cover urgent things first because once you’ve reached your time limit, you’ll table the rest of the list.

Who Should Attend

After preparing the agenda, decide who should attend. Consider what will be discussed and include only those who can contribute. While not everyone needs to have something to contribute to every item, every attendee should be connected to at least one agenda item. Inviting staff who have nothing to do with anything on the agenda frustrates team members and contributes to the attitude some have that meetings are sometimes a waste of time.

Running the Meeting

Establish clear goals for the meeting and share them in advance by email with everyone who will attend. Start on time and assign a timekeeper to keep things moving forward. After announcing some good news and presenting reports and statistics, the work begins. Remind attendees of the meeting goals. For each problem to be solved or goal to be accomplished, the EOS system recommends using their IDS system.

  • Identify
  • Discuss
  • Solve

They suggest this entire section should be limited to 60 minutes. So, drill down until the specific problem is identified and begin the discussion. The MDC Group always employs two communication concepts vital to this process, transparent communication and telling the whole story. All meeting participants are encouraged to share their points of view honestly and completely.

The third step, a solution or plan, might include adding to someone’s to do list, assigning research tasks, planning an additional smaller meeting, forming a committee, or changing a procedure. Once the time expires, table anything left on the agenda. If something urgent hasn’t been addressed, planners should schedule another meeting.

Reserve the last five minutes for a quick meeting evaluation. Getting input from everyone on how they feel the meeting went can create a positive atmosphere and suggest improvements for the next meeting. Send everyone a recap of the meeting, including decisions made and actions to be taken.

Handling Controversy or Disagreement

People disagree. That’s natural, but arguments can get out of hand and derail a meeting. The MDC Group has a list of core values they follow. Three are especially helpful in handling disagreement: “Collaborate, Be Carefrontational, But Move Forward in the Same Direction.”

All discussions should be collaborative, with everyone’s opinion valued. In collaboration, there’s an atmosphere of cooperation, and everyone’s ultimate goal is to reach logical conclusions and develop workable plans.

Carefrontation combines confrontation with a caring and compassionate attitude. So, when someone’s error is to blame for a problem, or there’s a flaw in a team member’s reasoning, honest but caring discussion should be quickly followed by plans to correct a situation, solve a problem, or reach a goal.

When people disagree, they must decide on a direction and start moving forward together. That may mean that most people have been convinced that one idea is the best through discussion and sharing. It could also mean that there isn’t a consensus but agreeing to disagree and choosing a valid direction is the best way forward. Choosing any path works better than stagnation because if an approach turns out to be less than perfect, those involved can make adjustments or choose another path.


People can be positive about attending meetings if they are planned and managed well. Meetings can accomplish much more if organizers create and follow an agenda, and agenda-building tools can help. According to EOS Worldwide, the meeting agenda should include good news announcements, statistical reports, and a list of subjects to cover or problems to solve, each with a set time limit. Starting on time, managing the different time allocations well, and finishing at the stated end time help keep meetings focused and productive. Part of adhering to time limits for the various meeting sections is controlling conflict well. EOS also recommends setting aside a few minutes at the end of each meeting to evaluate the sessions and suggest future improvements.


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