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Make Meetings Matter

How To Avoid the Common Pitfalls and Drive Results

Meetings. The necessary evil of modern working life. Do you know ANYONE who actually enjoys them? Do you find them useful, or do you find yourself thinking "Couldn't this have been an email?" or “Did I really need to be here?”

Research collated by Pumble in 2023 found that:

  • Managers spent more than 50% of their week in meetings, on average.

  • 70% of employees believe their job satisfaction would improve if they attended fewer meetings.

  • Employees spend approximately 31 hours in unproductive meetings each month.

  • 65% of employees felt that frequent meetings impact negatively on their productivity.

Yet they persist. Unnecessary and poorly managed meetings this are notorious time-drains, but they don't have to be. Make your meetings matter by ensuring they are productive, purposeful, and actionable.


Why Meetings Fail: The Painful Truth

Meetings can be excellent tools for collaboration, but when poorly run, they eat up valuable time without yielding results. One of the key reasons meetings fail is a lack of clear objectives. Without a solid agenda, conversations flutter aimlessly without landing on substantial decisions or clear action points. An agreed activity such as “Shannon, can you look into that please?” is a classic example of how vague action points give the illusion of activity, but do nothing other than drag decisions on and on achieving nothing of value. Without specific outcomes, Shannon may well ‘look into it’, but it’s only at the next meeting that the next step is defined. It’s no wonder some meetings are nothing bust talking shops.


Is a meeting necessary at all?

Before sending out that calendar invite to anyone and everyone, ask yourself, "What do we need to achieve?" and “Is a meeting the best way to do this?” Each meeting should have tangible outcomes, and everyone attending the meeting should add real value to those outcomes. If the meeting is simply to update/inform people a well written email/or collaborative document may do the job just as well (if not better!). Don’t invite people out of courtesy or habit. Be respectful of their time and recognise that people do need time to actually do the work!


Lead with Clarity

The role of the meeting leader is crucial. They're the conductor of the orchestra, setting the pace and ensuring each section comes in at the right time. As a leader, be assertive with time management and keep discussions on track. Instead of vague directives like "Shannon, can you look into that?", be specific. Assign action items with clear expectations: "Shannon, please research potential vendors and bring a shortlist to our next meeting based on criteria X, Y, and Z." Clarity leads to accountability, and accountability spurs action.

Take Control with Tactful Tactics

Discussion is the heart of every meeting, but without control, it's a nothing but a talking shop. Managers need to learn meeting tactics to handle digressions, monopolisers, and silent types to balance contributions and maintain focus. Control doesn't mean stifling; it means directing the group's energy to move the meeting forward and achieve tangible outcomes.


Making Meetings Matter

People will be happy to attend meetings if those meetings matter! Every meeting can be an opportunity to make strides towards your objectives, to make things happen, to solve problems or make a decision. But it all hinges on how well-prepared, clear, and focused those meeting leaders are in running them.

Consider the "Shannons" in your world. How much clearer could their tasks be with finer-tuned action points? How much faster would we get things done if outcomes were clear? Imagine how a decisive meeting can move a project leaps and bounds ahead. Imagine how much time that would save, and how much productivity would improve.

That can be the norm, not the exception if managers learn a few basic principles.


Invest in Better Meetings

The ready-written materials for our bite-size training session on Running Effective Meetings allow you to help managers to run better meetings. Better meetings (in return) not only drive results but also respect everyone's time AND reduce the stress that comes from time currently wasted in unnecessary or unproductive meetings.

Updated in 2024 to cover both face to face and virtual meetings, you also get instructions to run the session in person AND over Zoom/Teams all in the same pack.

It’s not rocket science, but helping managers run better meetings will impact so many other aspects of their work. Purchase our materials today, and help them to start leading meetings that people will actually want to attend – productive, purposeful, and packed with progress.

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