Lawyers attend a lot of meetings, and meeting skills are very important. If executed properly, a lawyer who demonstrates good skills running a meeting will be perceived as a leader. And leaders typically have upwardly mobile career tracks.
Those skills are addressed throughout my work and, most recently, were addressed in an Above The Law article about how to create and manage productive meetings. The following advice for success as a meeting organizer/leader was included in that article.
Set the Table
If you are the person who has called the meeting, have an agenda that includes subjects for discussion and proposed time allotments for the discussion. Make sure all attendees have a copy of the agenda, and make introductory remarks to remind attendees of the background and purpose of the meeting.
For some meetings, where attendees may not all be well-acquainted, ask attendees to introduce themselves and provide brief information about their roles in the conversation or why they were invited to join. If certain items on the agenda are privileged and should not be shared outside the call, make that clear in your introductory remarks.
Then, stick to the agenda as much as possible. Practice the fine art of interrupting in a respectful way in order to keep the discussion on time. If some discussions get off the rail, use those same skills to suggest that the topic is important and can be addressed in a future meeting.
Review Next Steps
As the meeting comes to a close, summarize the discussion, review decisions made, and review next steps. Discuss any “to do” items, the attendees who are responsible for those items , and when responses are due. If appropriate, minutes of the meeting can be sent out as an additional reminder of meeting progress and future expectations.
And don’t forget to schedule the next meeting. Get the date and time on people’s calendars then and there to have the best chance of good attendance at the follow-up meeting.
This all may seem very fundamental to you, but it is the small things, which often are taken for granted, that can be the most problematic. Be organized, have a well thought agenda, stick to it, and run a great meeting. If you follow this advice, you will be on track to be perceived as an effective leader.