I seem to be in meetings a lot lately which is hardly surprising when you consider that I am a Trustee of a sports charity, an Ambassador of a men’s health charity, a Governor of a Primary School and I’m on the organising committee that is arranging the fundraising events for the Charlton Athletic Community Trust to mark the 25th Anniversary of both the Trust and Charlton’s iconic return to The Valley. On top of this of course, I also have meetings with my clients and prospective clients.

It’s a fact that people spend so much time in meetings – they must be, how many times have you called someone only to be told that ‘they are in a meeting’ – so planning them properly is an important part of management that has the potential to be extremely beneficial or extremely unproductive for a business.

We’ve all been in bad meetings, you know the ones that drone on forever, that have huge long agendas, that never seem to get to the point, and you leave wondering why you even bothered. Whereas effective meetings can leave you energised and feeling that you’ve really accomplished something.

A former Chairman of mine in the late 90’s used to have senior staff meetings once a week in the offices of his Company – nothing wrong with that except that the meetings always started at 4.00pm and went on until 7.30pm – and on occasions even later. I’m sure you can imagine what the energy levels in the room were by 6.00pm, let alone when we eventually finished!

I’ve always been taught that effective meetings really come down to three things: they achieve the meeting’s objective, they take up a minimum amount of time and they leave participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed.

If you structure your meeting and plan and prepare properly for it you’ll achieve a desired outcome. For a meeting to meet this outcome, or objective, you have to be clear about what it is. Too often, people call a meeting to discuss something without really considering what a good outcome would be. Do you want a decision? Do you want to generate ideas? Are you getting status reports? Are you communicating something? Are you making plans?

I met with an associate of mine recently for a ‘ catch up meeting’ – In life you will meet people who are ‘energy givers’ and those who are ‘energy drainers’ – now I’ve said that you’re probably mentally putting your contacts into one or other of these categories! – my associate comes firmly into the ‘energy giver’ category for me. The reason we met up is that he and I like to update each other on what we’re working on as often opportunities arise in which we might be able to mutually assist each other. The meeting was just over the hour in length, both of us knew in advance what we were going to discuss and at the end of the meeting we agreed what the follow up should be.

If you structure your meeting and plan and prepare properly for it you’ll achieve a desired outcome. I suppose it comes down to making sure that after your meeting you’re feeling ‘energised’ and not ‘drained’!

Now, anyone fancy a meeting?