Monday Meeting Tip: LEAD by Design – How to Create Structure & Manage Pace

How many of you are using the same agenda, the same format, the same time frame for the meetings you dread leading and attending the most? It’s an all too common theme among my clients who are feeling frustrated and drained by the meetings they plan, lead and attend.

Some of the excuses/reasons I hear are:

  • We’ve always done it that way.
  • I’m not sure why we do it this way, it was like this when I got here and I never asked about changing it.
  • We’re required to meet this way because of our by-laws or other internal/external rule/recommendation.
  • “They” don’t respond to change well. We keep it this way for them.


“Your system is perfectly designed
​to give you the results you’re getting.”

–Walter E. Deming

Board meetings. Staff meetings. Volunteer meetings.


These are 3 prime opportunities to tap into the power of people who are passionate about your mission, your vision and your desired outcomes. They are filled with the people who are setting the tone and doing the work. It’s your opportunity to create greater engagement, which has the added benefit of allowing you to have greater impact and influence as an organization.

They’re your rules – if they’re not working for you – change them!

If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s time to change the way you meet.

I’m going to give you 3 suggestions to help you create a more effective structure and manage the pace and energy of your next meeting.

LEAD by Design: How to Create Structure & Manage Pace


1. Change the agenda. Create an agenda that has questions and desired outcomes on it instead of an evergreen headline like “Financials,” “New Business,” or “Old Business.” Be more specific. Send it out ahead of time and ask people to come prepared to respond to the question or desired outcome. What if you received an agenda that had questions or outcomes like “Ideas for closing the $15K funding gap,” “Suggestions and ideas for increasing ticket sales by 40% for our annual event,” or “How do we finally take this agenda item off the agenda forever? The things we need to close the loop on.” Feel the difference?

2. Change the space. WHERE you meet can be part of the problem. The energy of the space, the comfort and set-up of the room, the way the seating is arranged, the way people migrate to the same spaces each time AND the previous discussions held there can hold the status quo in place. Get OUT of your comfort zone and INTO a different space from time to time. Take a field trip to a relevant site. If you have to meet in the same space – change the seating arrangement or the orientation of the front of the room. These not-so-subtle changes can have a big impact on new ideas and new ways of interacting, engaging.

3. Change the pace. Create odd-numbered minute blocks of time. 7 minutes to discuss this, 3 minutes to discuss that, 12 minutes for this agenda item, etc… Use small group engagement strategies rather than full group discussion to tackle several agenda items at once. (Call me if you want some help thinking through what this might look like for your next meeting – it’s easier than you might think.) Shorten your meeting time by 20 or 30 minutes. Extend it by 20 or 30 minutes if it’s too short and you frequently don’t get all your items handled.

The bottom line on pace and time is this – it doesn’t take as long as you think it does to make real progress on your agenda. Often times your lack of management and allowing tangential discussion is what’s impacting your ability to start and end as planned. There’s a lot of room for experimentation and adaptation here. Try some things out. If they don’t work for one meeting, they might work for another. Some may require a commitment for several meetings before you see the benefit. Push through!



Be brave. Be deliberate. Be the CHANGE you want to see in your meetings.

What impact would making even one of these changes have on your meetings, your engagement, your morale and your results?

I challenge you to give it a try this week and let me know your results!

I look forward to hearing from you and learning from you!

Have a great week,




About Whitney Bishop

Whitney Bishop is a Change Agent who creates transformative experiences for leaders who are committed to making a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. She has designed a proven process to help leaders and their teams elevate their questions, create new possibilities and take deliberate action. Are you ready to discover the power of possibility and experience breakthroughs that will help you have greater impact and influence in the world? Let’s talk.