Preparing Effective Meetings


We have all been to them – those really bad meetings – probably more than we would like. Before you get defensive, I’m not talking about your meetings.  They are of course beyond reproval … always!  However, you do know what I mean by the ‘waste of time’ meetings that all of us have had to attend at some point in our lives.

For fun, check this out and recognise how some meetings just haven’t got a hope in hell of producing a significant outcome. Whilst this refers to online meetings, the analogy applies equally to real life meetings. Seriously!

Before you even suggest a meeting please think carefully about the following:

  • Why do you want to hold a meeting?
  • Who should be invited?
  • When is the best time to have it?
  • Where is the best place to have it?
  • How do we let the participants know?
  • What should the agenda look like?


With a very clear purpose, business meetings need not be the biggest waste of time they are often perceived to be. A little time spent planning a purpose can make them into a dynamic decision making session, or a motivational consultation; or an energetic problem-solving vehicle.


The people you want attending are those whose insights or expertise will support the purpose, alongside those who have the authority to implement agreed action. They need to know the purpose so that they too can come prepared to positively or constructively participate.


We need to make things easy for people to attend a meeting, particularly if they are volunteers. Where works best for the majority? And where works best for the purpose?


Last minute calls to meeting are the worst!  No one has the time to prepare, come ready to participate; and of course, plan their day. Plan what information you need to provide before and during the meeting and don’t forget to ask participants to bring what you need from them.


The agenda is the written plan for the meeting. It is an important tool for the leader who needs to bring the meeting back on purpose.  Otherwise it is so easy to get waylaid. Having timescales against items can help keep people concise. It is then important to keep to time.

When you plan and prepare your meetings you will have the tools to control the meeting and the outcomes.


On a scale of 1-5 with five being fantastic – consider how good your skills are at:

Score Skills
Opening with the positive intentions of the meeting?
Controlling your meeting and keeping to time?
Getting everyone participating – have you considered what’s in it for them?
Orchestrating an open and participative atmosphere?
Summarising what is being agreed as you go along?
Transitioning from one agenda item to the next?
Guiding the discussion through questions, both open and closed?
Testing and narrowing down the options?
Keeping the discussion on track?
Establishing a consensus?
Concluding your meeting?
Following up and following through?

Concluding the meeting

  • Indicate that it is the time to conclude.
  • Reiterate what you set out to do – the purpose.
  • Emphasise the decisions made and/or summarise the progress made.
  • Confirm the actions agreed by whom and by when.
  • Thank the attendees for their contribution and let them know how you will be following up.

In Rosie Barfoot’s words “leaders need to establish accountability”.  What has been agreed, when will that happen and moreover how will you all know? So it is worth exploring a little bit further how you will conclude so that you don’t over run or worse leave the meeting with no definitive actions agreed.

Free Leadership Toolkit Guides Series

Insights into Leadership and Management

Monthly newsletter plus get my free Leadership Toolkit Guides - a continually updated series of short leadership skills guides. Subscribe now.

I send out an email when I publish new "Monthly Morsels" - Insights into Leadership and Management.

Once subscribed you will be sent a link to the Leadership Toolkits download page.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Scroll to Top