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Are Your Meetings Getting You Nowhere?

By Sonya Buck, Australia


We’ve all been there. You are in a meeting and your mind starts to drift as you draw doodles on your writing pad. You’re thinking about the work piling up in your office and if you really need to be in the meeting at all. These can be symptoms of a badly planned and managed meeting.

You may wish to consider the following:

  • Firstly, you need to plan and properly structure any meeting. Ensure you have allocated enough time to cover what needs to be addressed.
  • If possible, think about when would be the best time to hold the meeting. First thing Monday or last thing Friday will not produce the best results. Ensure you have a good agenda, including a purpose and goals.
  • Distribute the agenda beforehand and you may wish to provide a summary of what the meeting is going to be about.
  • Consider who to invite to the meeting, do you need everyone? Do you need someone from the Accounting department when your meeting is about human resources? Remember, productivity can decrease the more participants you have in a meeting.
  • Start on time and don’t wait for any stragglers. If you add all of the hourly rates together of your staff, you arrive at the labour cost you are losing in lost productivity.
  • Ban phones, iPads and laptops to reduce distractions.
  • Let the participants know what you need to accomplish during the meeting.
  • Communicate how the meeting will be run – ‘so and so will be speaking first about such and such, then we will allow questions’ or alternatively, ‘feel free to ask questions and contribute along the way etc’.
  • During the meeting, make sure you stay on topic. Ensure you guide people back to what the meeting is about.
  • Remember some people are visual, some verbal and mix it up by using some visual aids.
  • As the meeting leader, don’t let one person dominate the conversation. Pull in others for their opinions, where needed.
  • Ensure you walk away with objectives and action points and people are aware of what their tasks may be. Make sure deadlines are included.
  • Distribute draft minutes via email and encourage feedback before the final minutes are provided.


Remember, well run meetings will yield great ideas and progress projects, so the making the effort to get it right will increase productivity and may even energise your staff.