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Six Ways to Accomplish More Effective and Productive Meetings

Meetings can be transformative spaces if leaders get to grips with the steps needed to make them more effective and productive. By beginning with organised discussion and ending with effective delegation, meetings can be sharper and waste less time for everyone involved. All that is necessary is stubbornly employing the skills involved, at every step of the way.

Six Ways to Accomplish More Effective and Productive Meetings

1: Do Your Homework

How many times have you heard the adage, ‘Preparation is key’, but attended meetings where the presenters bumbled their way through repetitive slides that each person can read for themselves or failed to grasp how to work the PowerPoint equipment in the first place?  Too often.

Instead leaders need to lead by a sharply set example. Distribute meeting agendas in advance so everyone is briefed and then follow a regimented agenda. Employing the right software helps.  DiliTrust Exec is a board portal that allows board members and executive committees to digitise their board meetings and organise efficiently each meeting. Users of DiliTrust Exec can upload documents prior to meetings and analyse material in advance with in built application features like vocal notes, post its, polls and highlighting tools. Collaboration prior to meetings is so important as figures show that after meetings people are 61% less likely to share notes

2: Read the Room

What can stiff body language and disaffected facial expressions tell you? A lot, according to experts. Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that observing between the lines in meetings is critical. Her advice for leaders? Observe closely how people respond by scanning the room and seeing, “who’s next to whom, who’s smiling, who’s not, who’s standing, who’s sitting, and how much space is between people.” McKee also recommends paying close attention to smaller details like facial expressions, posture and body language in meetings. Fleeting indicators like grimaces, raised eyebrows and slight smiles will lead leaders to gauge more intently how people react. In tense meetings knowing these skills prove indispensable.  

3: Keep Your Meetings Small

Smaller team meetings accomplish more. Google abide by this rule, with no more than 10 googlers present as standard. But how do smaller meetings achieve better results? Research from Standford University found that meetings with the highest productivity output are held with a group of between 5 and 8 people. Numbers higher than this manifest lower productivity. With more time for everyone to discuss issues and with a concise agenda meetings are more efficient and engaged.

4: Watch the Clock

Meetings are getting longer. Our attention spans are getting shorter. Something has got to give. Steering shorter meetings is a key skill. In the UK a recent survey found that the average attention span is 14 minutes long. Meetings between 15 and 30 minutes work best. 

5: Let Your Team Assign Their Work

Allowing your teams to assign their own work is vital to increasing productivity, efficiency and teamwork in meetings. It is a recipe huge conglomerates swear by, Apple and Google included. Steve Jobs labelled each person responsible for an agenda item the DRI or ‘the Directly Responsible Individual’. Why this is a move towards greater productivity is that people are held accountable from this meeting attended by their colleagues and they take a greater interest in completing each task as it is owned by them, i.e. they set their own deadline.

 It is even beneficial for employee health. Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL, Sir Michael Marmot, found through his four decades of research on government employee health in the UK that the highest mortality and poorest well-being were consistently associated with employees who had little control over their work lives.

6: Be Consistent with Following Up

As with point 5, leaders know that the momentum in the meeting room will wilt with time. So, persistence after meetings from management and leaders is key to seeing the project realised. Management can both support and see the project to fruition by checking in and offering some guidance and feedback. There is however a disparity between micro-managing and following up. Leaders must allow for employee mistakes and understand that they are necessary for growth.


DiliTrust Exec enhances and streamlines the management of your Board and executive committees’ meetings for efficient corporate governance. To find about more please contact our support team today to arrange a free client demo.