Running effective meetings: yes you can!

There is no doubt that effective meetings are essential in today’s connected world. Teams have to keep the communication going in order to work on common projects and achieve the best results. But why is it that so many employees still see meetings as a waste of their valuable time rather than an opportunity to rekindle the fire that their projects need to succeed?

An ineffective meeting is frustrating for everyone involved: the organiser is disappointed as participants’ attention dwindles and is lured to smartphones, and participants start getting restless as time ticks by and they itch to get back to their ‘real’ work. So what is the trick to keep everyone focused and involved? Here are some simple suggestions that will help you make your meeting more effective, productive and probably even fun.


Set a clear objective and determine whether a meeting is the best way to achieve it. If it is, ask yourself what your desired outcome is. Do you want to share information? Or collect feedback? Or come out of the meeting with a decision on a certain topic? If you are clear on what you want to get out of your meeting, planning and structuring it efficiently will become a lot easier.


Once you know what you are trying to achieve, you can think about who is most suited to help you realise your objective. Are you informing a specific target group, or are you looking for the expertise of a multidisciplinary team? The content and objective of your meeting should be clear and of interest to your participants if they are to engage in your meeting.


Technology has evolved dramatically in the past few years. There are now many more meeting formats to choose from than the traditional live meetings. When you’ve determined the purpose and the target group for your meeting, think about what the best format is to achieve your goal. Are participants spread all over the globe and are they used to virtual meeting formats? Is the message you are delivering during the meeting sensitive and does it require people to be physically present? Consider the various meeting formats and choose the one that is best suited for your meeting.


Make sure that the participants have received the documents they need to prepare for the meeting. They should at least have an agenda with the points to be discussed and the desired outcome. Do not cram too many topics into the agenda. If there is too much content, people will grow tired and become less effective. You will stretch their attention span to (or beyond) capacity.

Time management

Be realistic in terms of the time you allocate to every topic on the agenda. Remember that your focus should be on quality, not quantity. If there is a Q&A session planned, provide ample time but make sure that people do not stray from the topic at hand. Appoint someone who can act as a time-keeper and as a moderator. If you want people to attend your meetings, you have to show them that you do not allow people to monopolise the meeting and that you can start and end in time. Keep the meetings nice and short. It is more effective to work in short, concentrated spurts than dragging a meeting out for a longer period of time.


At the outset of the meeting, ban smartphones and other devices that might take your participants’ attention away from the meeting or the topic at hand. There is nothing as disruptive for a meeting as vibrating phones, or people staring at their laptop screens or tablets. Schedule some breaks so that people can check their smart devices during the breaks, rather than during the meeting.


Record the key points and conclusions of the meeting. If any to do’s come out of the meeting, make sure you record these, determine a deadline and assign a person who will be accountable for them. The notes should not be a verbatim account of what was said, but a concise executive summary that serves as a working document that is sent to participants at the latest the day after the meeting has taken place.


Your meeting is not over after the final point on the agenda has been discussed. Follow up on any open action points and keep people involved until your meeting objective has been reached. A good follow-up will ensure that participants feel that their participation and contribution has not been in vain, and it will motivate them to attend your next meeting.

Meetings can be extremely productive and effective if they are well prepared. They are one of the strategic tools for companies to work on projects and to increase engagement amongst their employees and teams. It takes some practice to get to the point where everyone embraces meetings and sees their added value, but once you get to that point, the return in terms of productivity and engagement will blow your mind.

Presence provides customers with a wide range of tools to manage meetings more effectively. From virtual meeting platforms to live meeting coordination, translation, interpretation and note taking, our products and services will take your meetings to the next level. Want to know more?


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