Writen by Peter Fisher

We all complain about meetings which are a waste of our time and the truth of the matter is that so many are exactly that. We've also seen the "corridor" meeting that takes place afterwards where it seems the real decisions are taken, or the agreed decisions are overturned.

You'll get your chance at some point in your career to run your own meeting - is yours going to go the same way? or will you make sure it's effective and does the job it is supposed to?

Well run meetings contribute to team building and high morale; badly run meetings are at best a waste of everyone's time and at worst potentially damaging to relationships and the business as a whole.

Here's how you can get it right:

All successful meetings depend upon a number of independent factors and if you approach each one methodically you'll find that your meetings are the ones that get action.




Structure & control

Records & action


What is the meeting intended to achieve?

what will the meeting actually achieve?

what happens if you don't hold the meeting

who needs to attend and why?

is there a more effective way of communicating?


prepare and circulate an agenda in advance;

invite agenda items before the meeting;

arrange agenda logically;

consider the important - v - the urgent issue;

arrange the timings and set limits;

clarify objectives for each item.


tell those involved what's expected of them;

tell everyone time, date location etc;

circulate any required pre-reading or information.

Structure & Control

Discuss each item in turn;

seek contributions but keep people to the point;

avoid going over old ground;

be aware of thre needs of the group;

prevent splinter discussion groups;

summarise often to bring back to the point;

commend contributions;

confirm any conclusions;

stress actions and who takes it.

Records & Action

record discussions, actions and responsibilities;

produce clear simple minutes immediately.

There are a number of points to learn about the effective handling of meetings:

invite the right people;

set an agenda that's do-able;

control timings and people;

encourage members to listen to each other;

note actions;

review and record

So if you want to avoid the "let's all turn up and see what happens" approach it just means you need to take the time to think through to what you really want and need to achieve, and then get on with it. People will thank you for not wasting their, or your, time.

Peter Fisher is a Director of Career Consulting Limited and provides pragmatic career advice at all levels from junior staff to executive directors. Visit http://www.your-career-change.com/index.html for help with career change issues from self-marketing to CV writing and Interview techniques.


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