How to add punch to office meetings

2015-02-01 15:00

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Most meetings tend to flow in just one direction and, as a result, can often be disastrous for the participants.

You know the type of meeting I’m ­talking about – the sort where the boss stands in front and delivers his sermon, while the staff nod obediently and take copious notes, ­offering little (if any) input.

If you make your meetings more lively and enjoyable, they will also become more effective.

Why are you here?

The meeting leader must ensure that the meeting is ­relevant to everyone who has been invited, otherwise ­people tend to disengage and their minds wander, which becomes a waste of everyone’s time.

Spell it O-U-T

Too many meetings start without a proper agenda being sent out beforehand. If your mind hasn’t had time to think about the meeting content before it starts, it robs you of the chance toadd extra value in the meeting.

Just say it

If you are running a brainstorming meeting, keep it short and start by asking everyone to write the word ‘NO’ in big letters on a piece of paper.

Ask them to crumple up the paper and then throw it in the bin.

Brainstorming is about ideas flowing and the word ‘no’ (or any form of sanction or rejection of an idea) is guaranteed to pull up the mental handbrake on most people in the ­brainstorming session.

Make a record

When brainstorming, ask someone to write or type down every idea, or record the session so your team members can make their own notes from these, then share those notes with the team and discuss the most relevant ideas at a follow- up meeting.

Who goes there?

If you’re unsure about someone being in the meeting, then they probably shouldn’t be there. Excuse them to get on with their work so that they don’t daydream throughout the meeting.

Set a time limit

It’s vital to know howto shut people up when they’re waffling on or taking up too much time on an issue. Set a time limit for each item on your agenda and if a discussion is going on for too long, suggest moving on to the next item. The previous item can be discussed afterwards.


If you don’t take the start time seriously, people will start showing up later and later, wasting time for everyone who is punctual.

Apply the same strictness to ending the meeting. We ­budget for every other aspect of our business, yet we waste endless hours in meetings that drag on and on.

Say it with me: “Time is money.”

The knockout punch

The best meetings are short, sharp sessions where you jump in and discuss a single issue with only the most relevant people involved.

Decide on an action then and there, and put it in motion, or decide when next tomeetto take the next step.

After all, it’s not the length of the meeting that counts, it’s how you use it.

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