The Elements of Meeting Effectiveness

Meetings exist for a wide variety of reasons, and take place in a range of different ways. But essentially they are all about people coming together (albeit at a distance in virtual meetings) to increase learning, insight and confidence. Sometimes that is in sharing information, or changing attitudes, or coming up with new ideas.

The extent to which they are effective in doing this is largely a function of how well they do the six things shown in the coloured boxes below right. Anecdotal evidence on the perceived effectiveness of meetings would indicate that many meetings do not do them particularly well.

In part, the quality with which we do these things depends on how much we think about meetings and how they work; how we answer the questions in the expanded diagram below.

The reality, for many of us, is that we don’t tend to think about meeting design. Meetings tend to be our automatic response to changing situations, and mostly we default to a standard way of conducting them – usually sat or stood around a table (or screen) watching presentations and having discussions. However, the ‘go to’ practices we tend to fall into are often habitual, and many centuries old.

As a consequence, our common practice fails to reflect the learning that is available from more recent developments in collaboration techniques and understanding. The way meetings are conducted makes little use of insights that have arisen from the fields of psychology, mental-health, teamworking, AI, problems-solving, decision-making, etcetera; despite those insights being incorporated into simple, but grossly under-used, best-practices. And those practices are under-used, not because they are ineffective or impractical, but simply because nobody thinks to ask the question – is there a better way of doing this?

And the result is that meetings, despite being the most ubiquitous business process, are also the most criticised and wasteful – consuming up to 50% of management time, and 20% of white-collar time, in unproductive activity.

So how do we do the six coloured boxes (the 6As) better? How do we overcome a lifetime of unquestioned habit to identify and adopt the aforementioned best practices into our own meetings?

That is the purpose of this site. To help you to prioritise improvement areas which will have the biggest impact on your meetings, and to suggest simple strategies which you can try out in support of that. At a base level, why not use the questions in the sheet below as a way to think through your meetings and to identify things you might like to explore further. Below the diagram are a series of links which can help you look at the range of strategies which can help you make progress – just follow your nose and use your own insight and curiosity to try out new things.

Alternatively, use the free Inspirometer App to gather feedback on your meetings and use the analysis to point you in the right direction (and to automatically track your progress).

Click on the links below to understand more:

Arrival  | Alignment | Activity | Attention | Actions | Assessment


Track your progress to ensure the efficacy of this strategy.