What’s the secret of a good meeting? Why do you have meetings?

They can take up a huge amount of time, and often seem incredibly unproductive. So what’s their purpose? A few things are usually suggested:

  • Making decisions: Meetings are undoubtedly places for healthy discussion. And too often poor meetings are those ones which featured long and rambling discussions, with no clear decision or outcome being agreed on at the end of it. But actually, the most important decisions are rarely made in meetings. They usually get rubber-stamped at meetings, but have been made through a series of conversations and thoughts between the key leaders involved over a period of time. So making decisions is actually not the number one purpose of a meeting.
  • Sharing information: This is important, and the best meetings often feature brief updates from team members that cover their various roles. But the worst meetings can have unduly long updates, on items that are irrelevant or already known to most of the people gathered. So much information sharing and communication can now be done in other ways to save time. So sharing information should not be the number one purpose of a meeting.
  • Building relationship: Now we’re getting somewhere. Lots can be done online, and lots can be achieved through individual conversations, but nothing can substitute a team getting together in person, for building relationships/ community/ esprit de corps/ whatever you call it within your team. But why is this so important? Because it helps contribute to the most important thing…
  • Releasing energy: This is my favourite one. All the others will usually feature in a good meeting, but they can also be done through different methods, one-to-one conversations, email updates, etc. But one thing that a great meeting does is release energy to those who were present. People should leave a good meeting excited and re-envisioned about the project, and wanting to immediately tackle their action points or to-do list.

Your job as a leader is to make sure you have good meetings that add value. And meetings have value when everybody leaves them energised about the work to be done.

Is that how your meetings work? Do you have any tips on how to use them for releasing more energy to your team?

Mark Williamson is a founding director of One Rock International. He’s a lay preacher and leader within the Methodist Church, author of a biography on John Wesley, and is currently researching for a biography on William Wilberforce. He enjoys good films, good food, praying for London, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.