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Effective Meetings

Effective meetings are a great place for people to share information, ideas and creativity. They are also a powerful management tool to make decisions and get things done.

However, we all have heard the joke: A horse is a camel designed by a committee.

Meetings can very easily become a time and resource consuming activity dominated by indifference, hostility, stifling etc.

Meetings need not be a waste of time but a productive learning experience and an opportunity that people look forward to.

Here’s your guide to effective meetings:


A meeting needs to have a purpose: decision making, problem solving, training, information update, team building and motivation.

Planning and Organizing:

Inform all participants about the purpose of the meeting and why their attendance is important. Send out a draft agenda and ask for comments and suggestions. The draft status of the agenda will show that there is opportunity for changes and additions. The agenda should include activities for each major topic as well as desired outcomes. Involve key participants in certain activities. This will give them a chance to prepare early and become active participants in the meeting. Allocate time for each activity.

Tip: The Agenda should be well organized but at the same time it should have a fluid structure. This way it can accommodate burning issues or other changes that may arise during the meeting.


Book the meeting room in advance. Ensure adequate sitting, lightening, temperature control and ventilation. Be creative with seating arrangements. They have a big influence on the quality of the meeting. Avoid using the traditional row-style, in which people can just daydream and not participate. Use circle-chair seating or table-trios. Circle seating does not just provide an opportunity for easier participation, but also makes everyone feel equal.


Provide all the necessary materials. Make enough copies of agendas and handouts. If you are using visual aids, make sure everything is set up: overhead projector, computer, flipchart stand etc.

Meeting Process:

Always start on time. Welcome all attendees in the meeting. Preview the agenda with the group and clarify roles. Make changes if needed. Assess group energy-level.

Icebreakers are a great tool to increase energy and change the atmosphere. Make use of them wisely. Click here for icebreaker games.

The length of your presentation on each item has a crucial effect on the concentrating of your audience. People do not concentrate well for long periods if there is little variation in the style of presentation. If you are planning lecture-based presentations, after 20 minutes you are likely to lose the attention of most of the participants.

A key element in organizing effective meetings is making them interactive.Break the plenary group into sub-groups or “buzz groups” to discuss one or two specific questions or issues. This allows almost everyone to express an opinion. While they are “buzzing” participants are able to exchange ideas and draw on their wide collective experience.

Evaluation of Meeting Process:

Spend the last 5-10 minutes evaluating the meeting: what went well, what needs to be improved etc. Assign someone to take notes.

Closing Meetings:

Effective meetings have effective endings. Always close meetings on a positive note. It may be an inspirational message, a summary of the meeting’s highlights with future actions to be taken etc. It’s important that everyone feels that the meeting was beneficial and worth the time.

Effective Meetings Related Articles

Effective Staff Meetings
Effective Business Meetings
Rules for Meetings

Outstanding Leaders consider themselves a work in progress
  Dr Franklin C. Ashby 

lead and learn

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