Poorly managed meetings are a major productivity hinderance to any organization, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We look at what these billion dollar businesses do to help you keep your meetings on track. Here’s how your 7 Favourite CEOs Run Meetings:

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was recently commended by COO Sheryl Sandberg for changing up his meeting tactics.

He employs 2 tricks.

First, he asks employees to send materials in advance so that meeting time can be used for discussion.

Second, before a meeting takes place, a clear goal is created. Facebook meetings start with the question “are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”

Zuckerberg also makes it easy for employees to get meeting rooms when they need them. Facebook undertook the task of building out their own meeting room booking software and platform to make employees more efficient.  They also use the data in building new workspaces.

Facebook Meeting Room Booking

Facebook’s Internal Meeting Room Booking Dashboard (Source: Facebook)

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

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Image: GeekWire

Jeff Bezos’ rules for meetings are that there should be no rules in meetings. Well not quite, but the CEO feels that unstructured and free flowing meetings allow for innovation by not setting rigid plans.

Bezos doesn’t want people to hide behind a PowerPoint. He requires employees to be prepared and prefers that a 4 page memo is drafted before the meeting! This is so that an employee’s ideas can be better thought out and explained.

Bezos likes keeping meetings small and employs what is known as the 2 pizza rule. There shouldn’t be more people in a meeting that 2 pizzas can feed.

Elon Musk, Tesla

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Image: Snopes

Musk has become a superstar in his own right, drawing comparisons to comic book hero Tony Stark. He even had a meeting with the Pentagon in June where he joked about discussing an Iron Man suit. When it comes to his own meetings, however, Musk is all business.

Like Bezos, he expects his employees to be extremely prepared for meetings. His employees know this and always plan ahead for any questions he may ask, making sure that time isn’t wasted.

Musk says that “Meetings are what happens when people aren’t working. As a result, Tesla employees are free to leave meetings as they please if they realize there is something more productive they could be doing.

Larry Page, Google

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Image: TED

In 2011, when Google underwent a huge hiring spree to support the company’s growth, Larry Page knew they’d need new management practices as well. Kristen Gill writes in Think with Google about the changes that Page implemented to make decisions faster by efficiently using meetings.

She notes that for starters “every decision-oriented meeting should have a clear decision-maker

[…] if it didn’t, the meeting shouldn’t happen.”

Small meeting size remains a theme. Gill notes : “Meetings should ideally consist of no more than 10 people, and everyone who attends should provide input. If someone has no input to give, then perhaps they shouldn’t be there.”

This is evidenced by some of their unique meeting spaces such as these meeting pods at their Zurich office.


Google Meeting Pods at their Zurich Office (Image: CBC)

Finally and most importantly Gill notes that “decisions should never wait for a meeting. If it’s critical that a meeting take place before a decision is made, then that meeting needs to happen right away.”

Reed Hastings, Netflix

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Image: Forbes

Netflix CEO Reed Hasting is in a meeting almost all the time. In an interview with the New York Times he notes that he doesn’t have an office because of the amount of time he is on the phone or in meetings.

Along with Patty McCord, Netflix’s chief talent officer from 1998 to 2012, Reed has been credited with changing HR. As part of this culture, they also implemented what are known as Patty’s Parting Questions: “Have we made any decisions in the room today, and (if we have) how are we going to communicate them?” This helped ensure that actionable items came out of every meeting.

When executives meet at Netflix they head to the “Towering Inferno”, the highest point of the Los Gatos Facility.


The Towering Inferno at Netflix (Image: Gizmodo)

Richard Branson, Virgin

Richard Branson and his Virgin brand are famous for success through a departure from “traditional” business practices. As such it’s probably no surprise that Branson conducts his meetings in a different way as well.

Branson uses standing meetings to keep them short and make faster decisions. He’s also a fan of walking meetings, to keep focused and get his creative juices flowing.

Finally, Branson notes that in walking meetings, PowerPoint presentations can’t be relied on and real communication happens.

Steve Jobs, Apple

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Image: Inc

Worklife provides a great breakdown of how the late and great Steve Jobs ran meetings.

Jobs always worked to keep meetings as small as possible, and maintained that only those absolutely required should be in attendance. Additionally, he worked to create ownership of meeting action items by assigning DRIs – Directly Responsible Individuals for each task.

Jobs didn’t like people hiding behind presentations. In his “Steve Jobs” Biography, Walter Isaacson notes that every Wednesday afternoon, Jobs had an agenda-less meeting with his marketing and advertising team where slideshows were banned.

Finally, Steve Jobs valued the engagement provided by face to face conversations noting that “it’s really important to bump into people face to face, to hash things out, to look them in the eye, to yell at them and scream at them, and then to hug them and to know emotionally what they’re thinking.”