Picture of meeting table, with glasses and an apple.

There can’t be many of us in the voluntary sector who haven’t spent time in a poorly run meeting. But I doubt it is a problem unique to any particular industry. Indeed, employees generally are said to waste up to 13 complete days a year in unproductive meetings.

But why is this the case? After all, surely a successful meeting requires just three key ingredients: a purpose, planning (venue, timing, agenda etc.), and proper chairing/facilitating. Yet so often in my experience, one or more of these ingredients is somewhat lacking.

The result is all too familiar. The meeting goes on far too long, it is dominated by just one or two individuals, most people lose interest, and very little is achieved. Of course sometimes even a good meeting can be ruined  by people turning up late, taking phone calls or talking over others. But ultimately, if the right people are present and prepared, and it is properly run, then success should follow.

Yet if in our busy lives we are to spend so long in meetings, shouldn’t we all be making more effort? In particular, shouldn’t we be sharing good practice and receiving training on meeting skills? What’s more, with many organisations running virtual meetings as well, don’t we need additional skills to ensure a successful outcome?

Like it or not, we can’t avoid meetings altogether, so let’s make sure that those we do attend, whether in person or online, are fit for purpose and properly run.


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