How to Improve Meetings – 7 Top Tips

What a WASTE OF A DAY! Back to back meetings and most of them either a waste of time or totally disorganised!! Now I’ve got my day job to do!

Does that sound familiar?

Do you get frustrated by poorly managed meetings?

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt – GREAT MEETINGS DON’T JUST HAPPEN!! The chair and everyone else at the meeting has to take responsibility for making sure it runs smoothly, efficiently and achieves its purpose. So, how do you do that?

Of course what you will find in this blog is not rocket science; frankly it’s common sense but as we all know it’s not always common practice!!

So, if you get frustrated by ineffective meetings, the 7 TIPS below will help you to review and improve the meetings you attend so that they get the job done without wasting time.


1. Know your purpose

Are you clear about why the meeting is taking place and what needs to be achieved? Is it to share information or make a decision? If you’re not clear, others might not be too. Ask the person who’s invited you to share the purpose of the meeting.

2. Be clear on the output for each discussion topic

most agendas (that’s assuming of course there is one!) simply list topics for discussion. Agendas need to describe the output for each agenda item and the suggested time. For example, do you want to update each other, gather ideas, make a decision, and so on. If this isn’t clear either, find this out too.

3. Do YOU need to be there?

Some people invite everyone they can think of to their meetings. Ask yourself why you are attending the meeting. What do you need to contribute? Do you need to attend the whole meeting or just one or two agenda items?

4. Avoid AOB (any other business)

AOB can be a nightmare! I’ve seen meetings go on for another hour discussing ad hoc points raised by participants. Do you raise ad hoc items that are better discussed off line or in another meeting? If you’ve got something to add to the agenda, let the chairperson know in advance so that they can make a decision about where and when to talk about it.


5. Kick off meetings with a PEA!

Well managed meetings will provide you with the purpose of the meeting, the endpoint (where you want to get to) and a brief walk through the agenda and the outputs for each agenda item. Suggest using a PEA to kick off the meetings you attend.

6. Make meeting notes work for everyone

I’ve been to lots of meetings where the actions that are emailed after the meeting bear no resemblance to what I remember being discussed! You can avoid this by using a white board or flipchart to note down agreed actions or any other notes you need. Everyone can see them as they are created and clarify them if necessary. Don’t leave the chair to do this – offer to do it yourself.


7. Manage the time

As each agenda item is introduced, is it clear how much time is allocated to it? Knowing this will help the meeting to stay on track. If the chairperson isn’t actively managing the time, offer to take responsibility for this. If you need more time for an agenda item, agree it as a group and decide how you will manage the rest of the agenda as a result so that you still finish on time.

So when is your next meeting? What will you try out from these tips to improve the effectiveness of your meetings? You’ve read this far so make it worth your while – take some action. Then drop us a comment afterwards to tell us about the differences it made.

If you’ve got any additional tips that you’d like to share for making meetings more effective, we’d love to hear from you – just add them into the comments box below.

Look out for next month’s blog on Handling Difficult Conversations.

Posted by Julie Turner


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