How would you like to improve your meetings?

Published by | Monday, May 23rd, 2011

We are developing a course on making meetings more effective, and we’d like to get your input on a couple of questions that will help to shape the course:

  1. What is the one thing you wish would improve about the meetings you attend or lead?
  2. What is the biggest mistake you think others make when it comes to participating in a meeting?

Please post your answers in the comments. Thank you for your insights!

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16 Responses to “How would you like to improve your meetings?”

  1. Laurel Guy says:

    1. Sending out a syllabus re: the meeting so others can come prepared, thus add helpful “researched” info rather than shooting from the hip. If asked to attend a meeting I would like to learn something, rather than being told of an agenda needed to produce. If all attendees are engaged, the meeting will result in everyone participating, adding a fast forward speed to the intended result.

    2. Avoiding eye contact and thus being reluctant to take on more work. The problem most experience is redundant work, which is boring and less productive. If people were “rewarded” with quality work that utilized the talent pool, the amount of work would be condensed into star-like gems that all would be proud to have touched.

  2. Andy Pickler says:

    1. A reduction in the number of non-essential people that are attending (as people in my industry tend to just flock to meeting regardless of their true need to attend).
    2. Doing more speaking than listening. People are often so eager to make a particular point that they really don’t listen to the conversation and determine whether there truly is any value/need for them to make a statement.

  3. Margo Wade says:

    1. Having a chairperson who gives everyone a fair opportunity to make their points yet ensures irrelevant or repetitive discussion is kept to a minimum.
    2. Keeping silent in the meeting and complaining later.

  4. Richard Christian says:

    1. Avoid having the repeat meeting. This is the one where we discuss the same things over and over again and again and talk a lot without determining and committing to a realistic course of action.

    2. Let the people speak who actually do the work, I see a lot of executive level folks making decisions based on a limited amount of actual knowledge because they neglect to hear out the people who are actually in the field or on the front line with the challenges.

  5. Kejun Xu says:

    1. engagement. knowing your audience/attendees. they may think totally differently from you because people come from different background/department and domains of knowledge vary.

    2. Not prepared. getting off tracking with irrelevant questions.

  6. James Wamser says:

    1. Have an agenda, share it with everyone attending and stick to it.

    2. I agree with Andy, people are often so eager to make a particular point that they really don’t listen to the conversation…

    Also, respect other people’s opinions.

  7. Fabi says:

    I agree with Richard Christian’s points.

  8. Amy says:

    1. Preparedness – Rather than do the political thing and send out an agenda without decision/discussion responsibility, note the names/units of those responsible for the decision needed on the agenda. Everyone should then discuss, but expect a decision from those noted.

    2. Over-delegation – Don’t delegate what is your decision down to a person who can only say “Well I’ll tell so-and-so (original invitee), we’ll get back to you” in the meeting. Avoidance of repeat meetings means each meeting has to deliver unique value. Stepping stones.

  9. Bob says:

    1 identify the kind of meeting it will be beforehand; working, ideas, announcements, chat.
    2 get up off those chairs and move about. to the board, work table, island. move to create.

    Great points all around here.

  10. Norah says:

    1. Without an agenda and a strong meeting chair to keep the meeting moving forward according to the agenda, people are prone to going off on tangents. There is no bigger time waster.

    2. Most people who attend meetings do little or no preparatory work. Some, if they haven’t had the good fortune to have been given a meeting agenda in advance, don’t even know why the meeting has been convened. They make the erroneous assumption that because they know the territory, assuming it’s an organization-centric type of meeting, there’s little or no need to brush up on things and make notes in advance.

  11. Matt says:

    1. What is the one thing you wish would improve about the meetings you attend or lead?

    Number one on my list is: Keep meetings to 30 minutes or less, at worst, no longer than an 1 hour. Absolutely no more. This is especially true of conference calls. After that time CNN becomes more interesting.

    2. What is the biggest mistake you think others make when it comes to participating in a meeting?

    The biggest mistake is the caller/leader of the conference call letting the meeting get off topic and allowing side conversations to occur. My time is valuable, at least to me it is. Sometimes, if I could send a bill, I would,


  12. Peter Boosten says:

    1. The meeting organizer should tell up front (in the meeting request) what he/she wants to achieve with that meeting, so what’s the purpose of the meeting, so you can prepare yourself.

    2. To be not on time

  13. Wail Ahmed says:

    1.What is the one thing you wish would improve about the meetings you attend or lead?

    - To be short & energizing.

    2. What is the biggest mistake you think others make when it comes to participating in a meeting?

    - Chairman: long & boring introductory (Get-to-point technique would be convenient),& not taking into account the participants’ workflow & working hours when schedule for meeting planned.

    - Participants: not checking out the meeting agendas which would cause off point discussions & subsequently meeting would end up waste of time.

  14. Chris Gift says:

    Three key steps, each with sub-tasks:

    1. Prepare. Author an agenda and attach appropriate supporting documentation. Share the agenda as early as possible allowing people time to prepare. The agenda must include a goal or desired outcome of the meeting. This keeps everyone focused on the task at hand. Remind everyone of the meeting and preparedness 24 hours prior to the meeting.

    2. In-meeting. Stick to your agenda. Manage your speakers (don’t let them dominate the discussion). Avoid ratholes by moving those conversations offline. And most important – TAKE NOTES! Capture all action items, decisions, and major points supporting both. If you don’t do this you’re doomed to repeat the same meeting all over again next week. The meeting facilitator should delegate note taking to two people (one is generally not enough if it’s a large meeting).

    3. Post-meeting. Share your results immediately, or as rapidly as possible, with all attendees and other stakeholders. This acts as a reference for duties between meetings (if it’s a recurring meeting), helps maintain the continuity of the group, and lastly, helps you avoid having the same conversation over and over again, which is a common mistake.

  15. Ya Wang says:

    agenda, minutes, action point.
    short, focused, participative.

    Do you agree?

  16. Sherrie G says:

    1. Lack of clear agenda on part of leader
    2. Leader fails to control “meandering” talk.
    3. People often fail to get to “next action steps” i.e. something actionable from meeting.
    4. Meetings that have no time limit set beforehand.

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