5 Easy Steps to Enhance Meeting Effectiveness

Written by Paul Marchildon, on January 22, 2014.


Engage your people’s creativity; enlist their support, empower their ideas and decisions; with meetings. When done well, meetings are vehicles that move strategies and initiatives forward. Rather than wasting time, they maximize it. Rather than zapping energy, they ignite and revive it. Rather than your team rolling their collective eyes when they think you can’t see them, they’ll bring their best ideas to the boardroom table and make meaningful contributions. The question is “how”?

Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. Unfortunately, even rocket scientists attend awful meetings. So what are the keys to success?

  • Clear agenda and objectives. It sounds simple, but it’s shocking how often people go into meetings without an agenda. What do you need to accomplish? There needs to be some level of time allocation as well: can you reasonably accomplish what you set out to do in this meeting?
  • Selective attendance. Have you ever attended a meeting and thought, “Why on earth am I here? I could be doing something productive. I could be napping.” At Atlantis, we had a policy that if you felt like you shouldn’t be at a particular meeting, you simply shouldn’t come. If you can’t add value, or extract value, then you are better off using your time for other pursuits. Not everyone needs to go to every meeting; as the organizer, be very conscious about who is invited so you have the right people in the room.
  • Meetings Lacking Effectiveness?

    Paul Marchildon, an experienced Leisureologist, can work with you and your team to design meetings that will capture your audience’s attention from start to finish.

  • System for measuring success. How do you know you’ve accomplished what you set out to do? If your goal, for instance, is to educate your sales team on a new product, how do you know if you’ve done that? A measurement might be a simple pre- and post-survey with questions assessing what each attendee took away from the experience. It could also be a five-minute segment at the end of your meeting that gives a quick summary of the meeting results and whether or not intended goals were achieved.
  • Fostering contributions. If there is one thing that people tend to loathe as much as Mondays it is meetings. One of the most effective ways to turn the tide is to make attendees feel good about their contributions, whatever they look like. Sometimes, you might contribute your knowledge or subject matter expertise; other times, you take learning away and act on it with your team. There is value there, whether you’re imparting it or soaking it up. It’s not a waste of time.
  • Back to basics. If you need a meeting, schedule it. If not, don’t. Remember what you need to accomplish. If you need a meeting to push those objectives forward, go ahead.  Set a clear agenda; make sure the right people are there; and start working towards the goal. That’s it. And refreshments. Refreshments never hurt. It’s a small cost compared to the combined hourly rate of all attendees.

The “how” of meetings is straightforward enough; if you need to get more out of your meetings, implement these steps. You don’t need a complex action plan or convoluted multi-level strategy – you just need to do it. The dramatic reduction in eye-rolls alone is worth it.

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.