Jeff Atwood outlines some tips for running a successful meeting which I think are worth reproducing here, though I'm starting with the ones I agree with:
- Every meeting should have a clearly defined mission statement.
Absolutely correct, every meeting should have a clearly defined set of goals, and they should be clearly stated, both in the invitation and at the start of the meeting itself.
- Do your homework before the meeting.
Not only will you look good if you're prepared for the meeting, but you'll be helping everyone else be more productive.
- Summarize to-dos at the end of the meeting.
This is as important as stating the goals. Someone should verbally summarize the action items and conclusions from the discussion.
- No meeting should ever be more than an hour.
I certainly agree that the shorter a meeting is, the better. But some meetings, especially brainstorming meetings or project reviews, are going to take longer than an hour. There's no reason to set an arbitrary duration that's called "too long".
- Make it optional.
I don't see how it's practical to make every attendee optional. People should still feel free to decline an invitation, but sometimes you need to make it clear just who you can't have a meeting without.