Bad meetings; the bane of office life. Soul-sucking, demoralising and confusing, the bad meeting is even worse no meeting, because it has an adverse effect, actually doing more harm than good. Fortunately, to deal with this particular problem, you can use the same principles of good communication that you would for other speaking situations such as presentations or pitches.

Have a Clear Plan of Action

Tell everyone the purpose of the meeting. State the objective clearly and then you all know where you’re heading. You’re like a guide, taking a team through a jungle to a destination: they need you to help them overcome obstacles, enjoy the pauses (like clearings) and to keep things moving; meetings can fail because they get stuck on one item. Identify what you’re going to cover, so that you’re all on the same page. Allocate time slots for each item and try to stick to it.

Don’t have a clear purpose? No need for the meeting, then.

Keep On Track

Stick to your plan of action, and if any one item is starting to take too long, you need to continue it later. Remember the purpose of the meeting, which item you’re on, and how long it’s supposed to take. Keep the pace up, and make it very clear when each item is completed; it may not be enough for a celebration, but everyone in the meeting should feel pleased that you’ve all kept on track.

Keep things moving!

Check That Everyone Understands

Broadcasting is one part of communication; the other is listening, which is more important in a meeting because there you’re talking to a group. Check in with everyone involved, and make sure that everyone has been heard. They may not agree, but they must have their say, and you must note it.

Don’t just bulldoze through, it’ll annoy people.

Finish When You Said You Would

For goodness’ sake, stick to the time limit. State the end time for the meeting, and keep on track so that you can either end on the dot or early. Imagine that, a meeting that finished precisely when it should have, or (even more mind-blowing!) before it should have. This kind of discipline can lead to people respecting you as a meeting chair, and being far more likely to participate in your meetings in the first place.

Stick to your word.


As with all your communication, you will maximise its effectiveness by using a simple structure and treating the whole thing like a conversation.

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