Tips for effective meetings

Written by Paul
Jun 25, 2014

Meeting. It’s a word that can strike a mixture of fear, boredom and loathing into the heart of even the most hardened businessman. This is largely attributed to previous experiences of hours spent in pointless discussion, small talk, petty arguments and general yawn-inducing monotony that are common by-products of ineffective meetings. So here are some handy tips on organising meetings people will leave with a smile on their faces....

Do you need to have a meeting - First question to ask is do you really need to schedule a meeting? Other questions include is the topic important enough, will the people attending find it worthwhile, could it be resolved through email or would you be just as well off having a stand up meeting in the kitchen?

What are the objectives? - Figure out what you want to achieve before you plan what to discuss. What is the end goal of the meeting?

Spend time on the agenda - A good rule of thumb here is spend double the time on the agenda and you could half the time of the meeting. Make sure that everything on it is relevant to the overall objectives of the meeting. Distribute it to all attendees beforehand and incorporate any useful feedback they may have, effectively getting the discussion started before the meeting does.

Guest list - Most important consideration here is to only invite people who absolutely need to attend. Don’t invite yes-men or nodders, people who are not associated with the project, ramblers etc.

Turn up with ideas - When distributing agendas you should encourage people to start thinking about the topics so they turn up with solutions rather than coming with a blank mind.

Timing is everything - Start on time, every time. If someone is late then allow for a few moments to update them but don’t restart the meeting or go into too much detail, they will pick it up and learn for next time!

Have a clear leader - Put someone in charge of chairing the meeting. Make sure they have a track record of efficiency and are suitable to steer the discussion where it needs to go and keep it to time.

Record everything - Having someone take notes is worthwhile but not essential. If you do get someone to do this make sure they are not integral to the discussion as they will spend the meeting with their mind on the minutes not on the conversation. If possible record the meeting (a phone is just as good as anything else here) so it can be summarised easily afterwards.

Set the timer - A little tip I heard from a colleague was to set a timer (ipad app) in the middle of the table to keep people conscious of the time.

Follow up quickly - Make sure someone is charged with reviewing the discussion and sending round a summary with action points for each attendee as well as a time scale for follow up. Without this your meeting may have been pointless.

Written by Paul Moynihan, Director of If you require a venue anywhere in the UK for an event then submit a free enquiry to venues in that area saving yourself time and money.