James Mayes

Blog: 9 top tips for making meetings more useful

In Humour, Personal Development on January 16, 2012 at 10:35 am

Productive meetingsRead an interesting post recently on Google’s approach to meetings, trying to improve efficiency.  A few pointers in there I like, a few less so.  Made me thing of my own approach over the years and how it’s changed. I’ve sat round the table as client, supplier, stake-holder, minion etc. so have a fairly rounded view.  For what it’s worth, a few of my thoughts. Love to hear yours!

  1. Ideally, five people is my limit. There’s a law to be applied here: The usefulness of any meeting is inversely proportional to the number of people in attendance.
  2. No decision-maker? No meeting.
  3. No reporters. Nothing constructive to add? Don’t be there. Be somewhere else, doing something else.
  4. Corridor meetings are NOT evil. How many times have you sat in a session with a handful of people for an hour, and thought upon leaving “well, a 5 minute conversation with X would have resolved that”?
  5. Be on time. Everyone has occasional over-runs, but if someone is a regular late arrival or no-show, it denotes a lack of respect for either the subject matter or the team. Whichever it is, the impact will be detrimental eventually.
  6. The agenda. If you need to hit a specific subject hard, prepare one. If it’s a thought session, why do it as a formal meeting? Go get lunch together instead, allow your brain to wander. Creativity is the key.
  7. Argue. Debate. Air your views. Don’t sit quietly, accept something you disagree with, then do a half-hearted job of delivering it. You may lose the debate, but you’ll be pleased you fought your corner.
  8. Have someone in the hot-seat. Doesn’t always need to be the decision maker, but if you’re there to achieve something (which you should be!), you need to stay on track.
  9. Think as you arrange: “Could this have been an email?”. If it’s just informational…

That’s me done for now.  What else can I be doing?


  1. Really like your 9 points but would add one. Do you really have to meet in person? This is close to my heart, as I have spent a lot of time over recent months traveling over 4 hours for a one to one meeting, which could have been done on the phone. In these days of conference calls, Skype etc being main stream surely we should use them,cut costs, be greener and reduce my stress levels.

  2. James, I have been in situations where meetings are held just for the sake of it. Where no agenda has been in place and no one has led. These have been pitifully pointless so I agree that a structure has to be there otherwise it is waste of time. Efforts can be best used elsewhere in these situations.

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