Efficient Meetings

How to have more efficient meetings at your work or community group

Love them or hate them, meetings are essential for teams to make decisions and cannot be avoided.


You could write a book on how to have more efficient meetings (David’s written 4…) but who’s got time to do that?


David’s done the hard work for you and has summarised the most important things you should do when planning your meeting so that everyone’s time is respected, including yours.

More efficient meetings follow accepted best practices. Here’s David’s top 10:-

  1. The agenda should be crystal clear on the expected outcomes for each item. The decision to be made should be clearly written on the agenda so the team knows what to discuss, keeping the meeting on track.
  2. Recap the ground rules at the beginning of every meeting until it’s clearly no longer necessary.
  3. Ban full reports being read aloud. Insist on brief summaries.
  4. Everyone should come prepared (except in really exceptional circumstances). Unprepared people will nearly always say “I’ve been very busy”. So has everyone else. Here are 3 ways to deal with this…
  • Close the meeting if it’s integral for everyone to be there. Alternatively, skip their item.
  • Ask the person to leave the meeting (some groups have this as a ground rule)
  • Proceed without input from that person.
  • Do this and you will find the team rise to the level of the standards you set.
  1. Only invite people that need to be at the meeting.
  2. Once a person has given their report on their relevant item/s allow them to leave the meeting.
  3. Short upbeat meeting ice-breakers set the mood and tone. Efficient meetings will then move straight into the business on the agenda. Be careful though – don’t make the ice-breakers corny.
  4. Vary the meeting chair. The boss doesn’t necessarily have to lead the meeting. Once you chair a meeting you have more respect for the whole process.
  5. Ban side conversations. Learn how to politely pull it back if the discussion digresses. On the flip, sometimes side conversations are pure gold, leading to discussions that may not have happened. Learn how to recognise and manage this.
  6. Use David’s Smarter efficient meetings and minute taking model. This is where the agenda becomes the next minutes, which becomes the next agenda, which becomes the next minutes, and so on to create a perpetual meeting/minutes cycle. Once implemented, it will save you lots of time as you capture the decisions and actions as the meeting is running.

Meeting Ground Rules

Overarching ground rule: Respect each other’s time before, during and after.

Working together to create more efficient meetings

  1. We meet to decide, and therefore encourage you to actively contribute to the discussion with your considered opinions.
  2. Only items on the agenda will be discussed.
  3. Please arrive 2 minutes beforehand, ready to participate and start on time.
  4. Items already discussed on the agenda will not be repeated if you’re late.
  5. Except for quick stand-up meetings, every meeting will have a written agenda.
  6. Agendas will be sent out in advance, allowing everyone time to prepare and be ready to make decisions.
  7. Stick to the set start and finishing times. Create intrigue by setting them to odd, unexpected times, such as 10:47 am or 2:53 pm. Guaranteed, everyone will turn up to see this happen. As chair, make sure it does.
  8. Meetings will focus on decision making more than information sharing.
  9. Meetings will be held in the morning when possible and be no longer than 1 hour.
  10. Zero tolerance for people who come unprepared or have not done the necessary reading or tasks.
  11. Zero tolerance for aggression and disrespectful or inappropriate behaviour.
  12. No mobile phones in the meeting room! Except in special situations agreed to by the meeting.
  13. The “speak once rule” is in place to encourage fair discussion. You won’t be given the opportunity to speak a second time until everyone who wishes to, has spoken once.
  14. Information items will be restricted to items that cannot be dealt with directly or by email, or items that other people must know about in order to do their job.

In Virtual WFH meetings

  1. Have a cat or dog in the background. 100% engagement guaranteed. Try it. It works.
  2. Cameras will be on throughout the meeting so we can see the cat or dog.
  3. Each person will mute themselves unless speaking or the pets wish to contribute.

For a deeper dive into more efficient meetings, download David’s

Attach a link to the downloadable PDF – ‘Ground Rules for Meetings’

Attach a link to the downloadable PDF – ‘Virtual & Hybrid Meetings – the Definitive Guide’

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