“That was an awful meeting.  What a waste of my time!” 

How often have you had this same thought? Wouldn’t your day have been more productive without the meeting that wasted your time? With all of the dysfunctional behavior in the meeting room? These nagging thoughts have inspired leaders everywhere to improve their meetings – an imperative for many who now must overcome the common challenges of virtual meetings. Whether you’re face to face with a large group or joined in a web conference with a small team, individuals just like you are taking action to transform their meeting culture with these strategies, which we like to call the Meeting Bill of Rights.

How many of these pitfalls were evident in your last meeting?

  • Didn’t start on time.
  • Missing key people.
  • Lacked a clear purpose.
  • No agenda.
  • Few people engaged.
  • Discussion wandered, repeatedly.
  • Key issues weren’t addressed.
  • No decisions made.
  • No follow-up actions.
  • The meeting wasn’t worth the time.

Bad meetings waste time, consume resources, and wear down people’s energy and passion. Worse – bad meetings often result in bad decisions – decisions that are poorly thought through, void of innovation, and missing the necessary buy-in for success.  So, how do we revolutionize this culture that has taken over? How do we make sure the real-world meeting challenges don’t loiter into the virtual meetings that have grown in demand?

Ignite a Revolution: Establish Meeting Rights!

A fundamental vehicle for transforming meetings is establishing and granting to every employee a set of meeting rights. The goal of the meeting rights is to empower everyone in the organization to be a catalyst for raising the bar on meetings and for making bad meetings unacceptable.

What follows is an abbreviated version of the 10 meeting rights adapted from The Secrets to Masterful Meetings that we recommend you modify to fit your organization’s culture:

Your Meeting Bill of Rights

  1. Meeting Notice.You have the right to be informed about the purpose, expected products, and proposed agenda for a meeting, verbally or in writing, at least twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting.
  2. Timely Start.You have the right to attend meetings that start on time.
  3. Right People.You have the right to have all major viewpoints critical to decision-making represented at the meeting.
  4. Right Information.You have the right to have the information necessary to facilitate decision-making available at the meeting.
  5. Ground Rules.You have the right to have agreed upon ground rules respected in the meeting.
  6. Focused Discussion.You have the right for meetings to stay focused on the topic of the meeting.
  7. Input Opportunity.You have the right to have the opportunity to provide input and alternative views before decision-making occurs in the meeting.
  8. Meeting Recap.You have the right to hear a recap of (a) decisions made during the meeting, (b) actions to be taken, when and by whom, following the meeting, and (c) any outstanding issues to be discussed at a future meeting.
  9. Timely Completion.You have the right to have your time respected by having meetings finish at or before the scheduled end time.
  10. No Retribution.You have the right to exercise Your Meeting Rights without fear of retribution or other consequences.


The next time you find yourself saying, “This is an awful meeting,” remember that we get what we tolerate.  Just look around the room and think about how much of your organization’s precious time and resources are being wasted every single business day.

When you have had enough, take action.  You can begin raising the bar in a number of ways.  Consider enlightening your leadership team by distributing these Meeting Bill of Rights. And encourage others to invest in facilitation training and/or virtual facilitation training.

Your organization will thank you for it!