6 Simple Ways to Make Meetings Work

Meetings are an unavoidable fact of life when you work in an office.  John Cleese of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python fame made a business training meeting called ‘Meetings Bloody Meetings’.  Here are some simple tricks to making meetings work effectively, taken from this production.Meetings 2


Make sure there is an agenda for the meeting.  If you are invited to a meeting with more than a few people, ask to see an agenda. If there isn’t one, suggest one.  It is easier to keep the meeting on track if it follows a set agenda, even if the ubiquitous AOB (any other business) is on the end of the agenda.

Notify in advance

If you want your attendees to say something about the agenda items, make sure they have some notice of the agenda items – never come to a meeting and present your attendees with an agenda they have not seen before.


If it is a meeting that is going to decide that people need to do work following the meeting, make sure that someone (and if needs be, you) is assigned the task of writing minutes or taking notes.  Whether formal minutes are needed or a follow up dot point email will depend on the formality of the meeting.  This is essential to avoid any ambiguity arising out of the meeting.  Sometimes what is said is not what is heard!


Meetings should start on time.  If the start time is 9am, start no later than 9.02am.  Latecomers will soon learn that time is important and that wasting the time of others will not be tolerated.  Similarly if the meeting is set for an hour keep an eye on the time and the agenda to make sure the matters are dealt with efficiently.

Control the Discussion

If you are chairing the meeting make sure discussion stays on track, in line with the agenda.  Side issues can be ‘parked’, to be discussed at an appropriate time.  Bring the discussion back to the agenda.  Set rules of engagement in terms of how those attending engage with each other – disrespect should not be tolerated.  There are many ‘meeting derailers’ you will encounter –for example those who ramble, make jokes, narcissists who want to make everything about them, people who interrupt all the time.  If you have a regular meeting with the same group of people you will begin to notice behaviour.

Finally – Consider a stand up meeting

This is a relatively new management technique.  When you have a meeting that needs to be short and sharp, have it in a room with no chairs – it will guarantee that the meeting sticks to the agenda, and is short!