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How to ensure productive meetings


To: Greg’s Blog Readers
Re: meeting

The next topic from my 10 Deadly Sins of Leadership (White Paper) is all about a scourge that costs businesses billions of dollars every year.

To discuss this, I’d like everyone to convene in the boardroom just after lunch.

I intend to wing it, so I can’t say when we’ll finish exactly.

I might be late, but don’t let that stop you from discussing the topic amongst yourselves until I show up.


Now, I wouldn’t be at all insulted if you didn’t show up to the meeting proposed above. For you surely would have recognized what it’s doomed to become: the topic of this month’s blog, “The Unproductive Meeting

Like nuclear meltdowns and marine disasters, unproductive meetings are rarely the result of a single failure, but a series of them – as illustrated in my example. I won’t bore you with the purpose of business meetings (boring or otherwise), because you’re undoubtedly a veteran of them by now.

Recommended: Download the 10 Deadly Sins of Leadership eBook

What I’d like to do is help you remove the “un” from “unproductive meeting” with some suggested tips. But first, some facts:*

Middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings; upper management, 50%.
That means a CEO with 10 years’ service has spent two solid years sitting in meetings. And you thought the last status meeting was long.

Executives consider 67% of meetings to be failures.
Word has it those executives are going to meet and discuss it some more.

In one survey, 92% of respondents admitted multitasking during meetings.
“cant tlk right now, in a lng brng meeting. lnch l8r?”

80% of messages we receive come from body language.
In other words, 100% of remote participants don’t benefit from face to face meetings.

Greg’s tips to create productive meetings

Establish that a meeting is needed in the first place

The purpose of a meeting is to interact and share ideas. If you just intend to impart information, consider an inter-office memo instead.

Determine who really needs to be there

Lack of productivity compounds when you include people who don’t have a vested interest in the meeting’s outcome.

State a desired outcome

“We’d like to recover 50% of overdue accounts” vs. “Can we chat about deadbeat clients?”

Distribute an agenda in advance

An agenda accomplishes two things: it keeps a meeting on track and shows you’ve actually given some thought to what needs to be discussed.

Keep it short

You’ll be surprised at how much more amenable people are to a meeting when you tell them it’s an hour or less.

Avoid sermons

They’re called “meetings” not “presentations”.

Stay on topic

“Dwayne, do you have the results from our 3rd quarter… hey is that an Apple watch?”

Stick to the stated time of the meeting

You know the feeling when you’re on the other end: you think you’re done and another irrelevant topic is raised (see above).

Clarify next steps

Or in jargonese, “develop action items”. After you delegate who does what, follow up.

Which of these tips apply to your meetings?

So, in the meeting I proposed at the very beginning of this blog, which of these tips might apply? If you said “most of the above”, you’d be right. If you said “none”, then we need to schedule another meeting.

For some people — and I’ve convened with a number of them — holding an engaging and productive meeting comes naturally (local legend Jim Pattison comes to mind). But for everyone else, being productive in the boardroom is like anything else, it takes practice – hopefully this blog will help.

Thanks for reading,


* Source of facts:

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734