How to Hold Effective Meetings

How to Hold Effective Meetings 

One of the most common complaints in the workplace is still regarding the number of meetings, whether in-person or virtual.  Managers and team members are often rushing from one meeting to another and feeling as if they haven’t actually achieved anything during the working day.  This can then have a knock on effect as they need to catch up with emails, phone calls and real work tasks after hours; in turn this can cause resentment, lack of engagement and result in feelings of stress and ultimately in worst cases burnout! 

Despite the existence of software packages, which calculate the cost of meetings, with some estimating that management team meetings can cost around £500,000 - £ 1million annually, meetings form a major part of company culture.  Of course, with the rapid rise in remote and hybrid working there are more meetings than ever, resulting in many workers experiencing screen fatigue.  It’s up to leaders and managers to change working practices in order to improve productivity and engagement. 

In most surveys regarding engagement during meetings, almost 70% of attendees will admit to not being engaged, instead they are actively multitasking, answering emails, making notes on other matters, writing reports – or even shopping lists!  The same percentage regards internal meetings as unproductive with up to 90% of remote participants on video conferences admitting to doing something else whilst on the call.  It is no coincidence that some of the most successful global organizations hold very few meetings, or 15 minute crisis meetings to solve problems, or 5 minute stand-ups for updates.

However, meetings can be very productive if a few questions are asked in advance and organizers and attendees adhere to a few basic guidelines.  Here are 10 tips for a more effective meetings culture:

For the Meeting Organizer:

1. When you are about to arrange a meeting, ask yourself : Is it is really necessary? Will it add value?  Would a telephone call suffice?

2. Ask: What is the objective?  Can this be achieved by a group email or in short 1:1s instead?

3. Block off time in your diary to prepare.

4. Follow the advice of the CEOs of the tech giants:

  • have stand up meetings
  • hold 5 minute meetings
  • have ‘walk and talk’ meetings
  • limit the number of attendees to 10, unless it is a ‘Town Hall’ type meeting 

5. Circulate a short agenda at least 2 days in advance and ask for any comments to be emailed back.

6. Ensure that the meeting is not focused on operational updates as these can be circulated by email or MS Teams Channels, but do ensure that strategic initiatives, strategy alignment and strategic reviews appear regularly on the agenda.

7. Start the meeting at 10 minutes past the hour to give people time to arrive on time and only hold 45 minute meetings - if you need that long.  If you block off an hour, then you'll use that hour!

8. Block off time after a meeting to action any points or circulate notes.

9. To ensure engagement and foster a culture of innovation, ask each attendee to chair an agenda item.  And rotate the chair so that different people get to lead the meeting.

10. After each meeting, review the outputs against the objectives, ask for feedback and think what worked well, not so well, and what would you do differently next time.

And for the Meeting Attendees:

When you receive a meeting invite, ask yourself and the organiser if it is really necessary that you attend or can someone attend in your place, email an update, or be sent any action points after the meeting?  Again, block off time to prepare and action any of the points assigned to you.

During Natural Talent’s Coaching and Training modules managers learn how to:

  • decide whether a meeting/attendance is appropriate
  • ensure that meetings are effective and productive
  • set key, relevant objectives
  • plan and prepare a meeting
  • acquire key skills to chair meetings
  • structure meetings to enable real results
  • keep focused and manage the agenda
  • manage effective Hybrid Meetings
  • facilitate contributions from participants
  • handle supportive or disruptive behaviors
  • review their presentation skills in meetings
  • give and receive open and constructive feedback
  • develop a SMART Action Plan for ongoing development

We've been trying to create a more inclusive hybrid culture for a while.  Adopting the tips and tricks from your Coaching sessions has had a real positive impact on morale and well-being; thankyou!'  HR Manager

Please read some of our Client Success Stories here, read about successful Hybrid Meetings here, and watch one of our videos here: Please contact us to discuss your requirements or to book a Coaching or Training module.