Want to make your meetings more successful?

We all know that checklists are widely used in settings where the outcome is critical, such as in aviation, power plants, medicine or military operations. What we might not realize is that checklists play a prominent role in widely different situations and environments, such as on production floors, in day care centers and in political campaigns.

Checklists can also be used to improve the productivity of your meetings. The idea is simple: Design a meeting checklist, then distribute, post and use it.

Here are a few tried and true simple rules to make your meeting checklist work most effectively:

  • The checklist should be on a single side of paper. Use large font that is easy to read.
  • The checklist should be short and the items quickly completed.
  • The checklist should typically have no more than 10 items.
  • Follow the checklist and cover all items.

A checklist is simply a reminder system. It consists of things that you already know (hopefully) but might forget before a particular event. The checklist keeps the practices that make a successful event (like a meeting) right there in front of you. That way even if you are tired, have a headache or are preoccupied you won’t miss something important.

You can also use the checklist to remind yourself to try new ideas, techniques or practices.

The power of the checklist is in the execution. They only have a positive effect if you use them.


It is a good idea to divide the items for checklists into sub-checklists to make sure no items are overlooked. For example, in relation to the timing of a meeting, make a checklist for days before, right before, during, right after and after the meeting.

It is advisable to keep the meeting checklist as simple as possible.

Keep in mind, checklists are living documents that we want to grow smarter over time. This happens by incorporating new issues that occur and removing old issues that no longer happen.

To the right is a basic meeting checklist that you can adapt to your type and style of meetings.

More information on conducting effective meetings can be found at www.MeetingDefender.com. There you will also find my eBook, Meeting Improvement Idea Book, along with information on low-cost training and software tools to improve your meetings.

Joel Levitt has trained more than 6,000 maintenance leaders from more than 3,000 organizations. Since 1980, he has been the president of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services a variety of clients on a wide range of maintenance issues. www.maintenancetraining.com .