What makes meetings so dreadful?

This is a new year. How about re-evaluating your relationship with meetings? Many of my clients have so many meetings that they have no time from 9-5 to get their actual work done. Back-to-back meetings are tough because there is no time to prepare for the meeting or process what was learned at the meeting. Many times, they simply add more “to-do’s” to their ever growing to-do lists.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Here are a few suggestions that I have shared with clients:

  • Schedule 20 minute or 45 minute meetings, it gives you time to breath. Also start and end the meetings on time. Don’t wait for laggards. Respect the time of the people in the room.
  • Be clear about the reason for meeting. What are you trying to solve, what’s the point? State it clearly at the beginning of the meeting and in the meeting invite.
  • Manage the clock like a pro. Use the parking lot when off topic, encourage hearing from many voices but frame out how long they can speak such as “Share your thoughts on this topic in a sentence or two max”.
  • Summarize, make sure there are specific next steps and that someone takes notes and shares them with the group.

What meeting hacks work for you in your organization?


As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional – your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.

Chris Fussell, author

Worth the Share

This blog post makes the point that people should want to attend meetings. When I read that, I rolled my eyes. For all my years in corporate, I rarely felt that way. But good, well-run meetings make things happen and drive progress forward, making people want to attend. Here are six tips from a post I saw on SmartBrief on Leadership:

  • Don’t waste their time – so obvious but often not considered
  • Know your outcomes – and state them clearly and specifically
  • Get the “right” people in the room – another obvious tip but often meeting leaders like to cover their bases. Maybe send follow-up notes instead?
  • Clarify the intent – “informational or to make a decision or act”
  • Clarify who owns the decision – this is my favorite tip since it can be confusing if attendees are not on the same page
  • Turn meetings into results – I like to follow the DACI framework

To learn more, read Advanced Guide to Lead Meetings That Get Results and People Want to Attend

And Finally...

Of course, managing meetings goes hand-in-hand with managing your calendar. A sales manager I worked with reorganized her calendar based on energy and prep time, and it made a huge impact. Courtney put all her 1:1s on Monday, and cut the time down to 45 minutes from an hour. This kept her focused on short term revenue growth. She calendar blocked three hours the day before her big, weekly management meeting to prepare and own what was happening in the territory. She also blocked time on Fridays for strategic thinking and prepping for the next week. And finally, she blocked time with sponsors or mentors so she could continue to grow her brand at the company. 

I hope you have a great start to the new year, and that you are more intentional with meeting and calendar management.


Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at info@mjrcac.com