Meetings – I must say I tend to loathe them unless they’re well managed, which they often aren’t.  They seem to be an excuse to put off a decision, waste some time, and avoid executing on something.  They can be really counter-productive when not done well.

My first job out of college was a management trainee role, where the company went to proper lengths to train us in the basics.  How to communicate, how to manage your time, how to manage people, how to run meetings.  25 years on, I can still see in my head the old video on ‘Meetings, Bloody Meetings’ from John Cleese‘s training company.

There’s nothing worse than a badly run, badly chaired meeting.  So, with that in mind, here are 7 top of mind thoughts on how to instantly improve your own meetings.

– Have a start time and an end time

– Stick rigidly to both

– Produce an agenda, the shorter the better

– Ideally, allocate times for each item on the agenda to fill the total time available

– Publish this in advance so that people know what prep they need to do

– If you’re managing the meeting, control it, bringing off-topic discussions back on track, and agreeing actions and ownership of those actions.  If you don’t get resolution on an item in the time available, park it and move on.  If it’s not your meeting, and it’s a shambles, send the person this blog post

– If conversations get heated, take 2 short comments on either side of the argument and move on

A good meeting energises people, making them feel confident, informed and part of the team.  A bad meeting does the opposite, simple as that.