Are your meetings driving people away?

If you are still attending (or leading) meetings that you feel are NOT a great use of time, please pay close attention. 

  • Your time matters.
  • Your energy matters.
  • Your creative ideas matter.
  • Your contribution matters.

Meetings are a place where people just like you come together to invest their precious energy to move ideas and outcomes forward.

But too often, meetings are boring, disengaging, and a downright waste of time.

Sure, information is shared in many meetings, but that can often be done another way, like via a memo or shared document, allowing participants to receive and digest the information on demand, thereby increasing retention and saving time. 

We must learn to think differently about our meetings!

We have mistakenly come to believe that a list of subjects with proposed time allocations for each is a “well-planned meeting agenda.” But resorting to the “list of topics” type of agenda often results in unfocused discussion, unclear outcomes, a lack of energy, and diminished accountability.

In fact, meetings like the above essentially send this message: “Your time and ideas are not that important.” Or, “I can’t be bothered to learn to design a good meeting.” 

And make no mistake. Meeting participants pick up on this message, and they begin to do almost anything to get out of attending your meeting. 

Don’t let this happen to you!

Think about the last 5 meetings you led or attended. How did they go?

  • Was your time well spent?
  • Was everyone engaged at their highest level of contribution, regardless of power/ authority differentials?
  • Did all participants understand (and agree to) the purpose of the meeting and the process used to get results?
  • Were your ideas considered and debated?
  • Were problems solved (for real)?
  • Were decisions made (in a way that will stick)?

I want you to think of every meeting as time and space set aside for group genius to occur.

Meetings should be inspiring, interesting, creative, engaging, and purposeful.

Before you call a meeting (or even attend one), make sure you can answer these questions:

  • WHY are we meeting? What is the primary outcome that I want from these people at this time?
  • WHO should be meeting? Who holds a stake in this problem or decision? Whose opinion are we NOT considering (but should be)?
  • HOW should we spend our time? Will we identify a problem? Generate alternate solutions? Weigh potential solutions? Make a decision? Share information? Craft a vision?
  • What PROCESS will be most engaging and will yield the best results?

Learning to design and lead a powerful meeting is a competency that every leader should develop.

When you engage your team at the highest level, unleash their creative energy, and focus their problem-solving abilities, you are demonstrating collaborative leadership and separating yourself from the pack.


So, next time you are planning a meeting, go beyond the standard list of topics. Think strategically, and remember that your team WANTS to be engaged. They WANT to be part of something meaningful, and this is your chance to make it happen.

I’d love to hear your questions about meeting design and facilitation. Where do you get stuck? What’s your biggest challenge? Send me an email: [email protected]

Make it a great day!

About the author:

Claire Laughlin is a communication consultant and trainer, ruthlessly dedicated to creating happy, high-energy workplaces! With 25 years of diverse workplace consulting and training experience, she brings energy, enthusiasm, and a positive perspective to every client project. You can count on Claire to help every person develop their leadership ability and to unleash the potential in your workplace through powerful meeting design and training programs.

Contact Claire: [email protected]

*Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash


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