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Making Meetings Meaningful

I discovered early on in my adult life that my working time was an ebb and flow of meetings… some of which, were better than others… and the secret to a good meeting? Having a decent Chair. Both kinds of chair, actually, but for the purposes of this article – a person in charge of the meeting who has done the following:

  1. Decided to call a meeting because they have a purpose for it.

  2. Has let everyone know in advance what the purpose of the meeting is.

  3. Has invited the correct people to the meeting.

  4. Will run the meeting to time.

Simple steps – but if you think about meetings you may have attended where these 4 simple things were NOT in place, how often did you come away thinking “well, that’s 2 hours of my life I’m not getting back”?

Now we are in a mixed up world of hybrid / remote / face to face working, just grabbing some colleagues for a meeting may not be so simple.

I actually don’t think this is a bad thing.

These days, we may well need to include in our meetings people who are not just physically in the office but will perhaps be dialling/Zooming/Teams-ing in as well (other online platforms are available!). So how do you ensure that everyone is heard, they all get a chance to share ideas and everyone is an equal shareholder in these spaces? We hear that people working remotely are fearful that they won’t get the same chances or opportunities coming their way as those who are there in the flesh, so to speak – so how do we start with the basics and give everyone a voice in meetings?

Here are three tips to make sure you get the best from everyone:

  1. Agenda. Send an agenda, in advance. If you don’t think you need one, then you probably don’t need a meeting. Time is precious – don’t waste other peoples. Having an agenda gives people time to prepare and to know what to expect. This can reduce the stress that ambiguity can inflict and also gives people the opportunity to put their best thoughts forward.

  2. Culture. Ensure that your meetings are a safe space. You want an environment where people are not fearful of being challenged in a negative way. Conflict can be productive and it’s where creativity can come from, but all too often it is destructive. If your team think they will be shut down if they come forward with ideas, guess what happens??

  3. People. We are all different and a wise chair will make sure that all preferences are catered for when asking people to speak up in a meeting so have a think about who you have in the room. Your more dominant team members won’t be backwards about coming forwards – but make sure that they don’t jump on anyone who may be brave enough to challenge them. Your influencers in the room may also be vocal but give them the space to give their creative suggestions air time. They will take it personally if their perhaps more “out there” ideas are dismissed too quickly. Your steady Eddies will be a bit more cautious – they may appreciate you directly asking them what they think but in an easy-going way. They want to see that you actually care about what they have to say. And then you have your group of conscientious workers and they will need thinking time. The worst thing you can do for this gang is to put them on the spot. Appreciate their thoughts (because they will have spent a long time thinking things through) and while they may seem sceptical of everything and that can be frustrating, it is only because they are considering every single angle.

Having an agenda and sticking to it allows all of your different personality types to prepare for a meeting and lets them come forward in the best way they can. If you are chairing the meeting, make sure you are vigilant of everyone in the room. As we know, the person with the loudest voice, doesn’t necessarily have the best ideas.

COLIN NOBLE

Human Everything


We empower businesses to build better teams and enhance mental health awareness. Through services and training, including Mental Health Awareness, Workplace Mediation and DiSC profiling - delivered online or in person. Working with your teams to facilitate effective collaboration and positive team dynamics, making your working world a better place.
Telephone: 01562 750 536 Email: colin@humaneverything.co.uk

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