Make better use of your time and benefit from diversity of thought

Meetings are an unavoidable feature of work life. More often than not they can feel like a waste of time because they’re inefficient, ineffective or possibly both. It can feel like real work only happens in between meetings.

Meetings can, however, be a useful tool that helps teams share information, generate ideas, design more effective solutions and make better decisions. In today’s world, where we face ever more complex problems, we need to use the collective intelligence of a group to find the best solution. As a manager or leader, meeting lead or participant, there are ways to ensure that meetings are both effective and efficient. Many people are aware of good practices but don’t necessarily apply them consistently. Putting a little more thought and effort into your meetings can actually help release time in your day and enable you to focus on the things that matter the most.

Download a copy of Ten common problems with meetings and how to fix them for more detailed tips on what you can do as a meeting lead or participant to make your daily meetings more effective.


top priorities on chalkboard


1. Before

  • Make sure that a meeting is the right tool to achieve your objective. Pure information updates can be shared via email.
  • Share the objective of the meeting and an agenda to provide direction. Think about why, what, who, when, where and how. Is the purpose of the meeting to discuss strategy, generate ideas, or work through operational tasks?
  • Invite the right group of people:
  • If the purpose of the meeting is to generate ideas and solutions to complex problems, then invite a group of people with a diverse set of knowledge and expertise.
  • If the purpose of the meeting is to make decisions, then invite people with the right level of decision-making power.
  • Communicate what you would like participants to contribute.
  • Share critical information updates before the meeting so the group can focus on discussion during the meeting.

Teams or groups with a diverse set of experience, expertise and opinions are more creative and are better at solving problems. Ensure you invite a group of people who will increase the diversity of thought in the meeting. Inviting people who think alike will leads to a narrower range of ideas and solutions.


team collaborating with post it notes on a wall


2. During

  • Create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing information and expressing opposing views by encouraging debate.
  • Assign a specific amount of time for each agenda item and assign a timekeeper.
  • Keep the discussion on track by asking people to link their points back to the objective.
  • Ensure conversational turn taking and equal contributions by encouraging quieter people.
  • Ban multitasking. People don’t truly multitask, they just switch between tasks quickly and are actually less efficient.

To unlock the diverse perspectives in the group, create an environment where it feels safe for people to speak up and voice opposing views. This may involve encouraging people to share ideas even if they’re not 100% certain, encouraging challenging questions, and getting the most senior person to listen more than they speak. This will boost knowledge sharing and the collective intelligence of the group.


to do list on a notepad


3. After

  • Summarise the actions from the meeting, noting the task, who is responsible, and when the task needs to be complete.
  • Communicate how the actions help to achieve the shared objective.

Meetings don’t have to be a time sink. Adapt your approach to power diverse thinking and improved performance in your team.

Download a copy of Ten common problems with meetings and how to fix them for more detailed tips on what you can do as a meeting lead or participant to make your daily meetings more effective.