How to hold a successful meeting: 9 practical tips

Meetings can be nerve-wracking, especially when you're in charge. So be prepared and follow these top tips to make your working day more effective.

How to hold a successful meeting
How to hold a successful meeting
(Image credit: Rex Features)

Meetings can be nerve-wracking, especially when you're in charge. So be prepared and follow these top tips to make your working day more effective.

Does your working day seem filled with pointless meetings? Do you leave those meetings feeling more confused than when they began? Put an end to time-waster sessions with these essential tips that'll help you get the most out of this neccessary evil.

1. Who needs to be there? Take another look at your attendee invite list and make sure that every single person on it needs to be at the meeting. Will each and every person on the list contribute something useful or could their time be better used elsewhere? Could they be filled in with a quick phone call afterwards? Slim down the guest list for a more efficient meeting.

2. Email background material before the meeting. Make sure all your attendees come prepared in order to save valuable time for fresh ideas and discussions during the actual meeting. Email over any documents, statistics, reports and background material along with the meeting invite, as well as clear instructions on what you would like people to bring to the meeting. Also let the attendees know the agenda so everyone is 100 per cent clear on what the meeting is about and what is expected.

3. Have clear objectives. What exactly do you want the meeting to accomplish? Identify some clear aims and make sure you accmplish them during the meeting. It also helps if you know what the expectations of the other participants are, you could do this by emailing them prior to the meeting. It's key that the meeting has a purpose.

4. When is the best time to meet? Scheduling a meeting for 9am on a Monday is probably not the best idea. You need to think about when people are going to be the most engaged and prepared while leaving enough time for any deadlines that might be linked to the meeting. According to one study, 3pm on Tuesday is the best time to call a meeting because most attendees will be available, motivated and willing.

5. Be clear about action points. Often people leave meetings feeling enthusiastic and promising to produce all sorts of fabulous things, but that can all be forgotten the next day. Document all meetings (or ask someone else to take minutes) and circulate assigned action points with deadlines after the meeting.

6. Don't get distracted. It's inevitable that other issues will arise during the meeting but if they are going to get in the way of your agenda, make a note of them and address them at another time.

7. Punctuality. It sounds simple but it can be so irritating to have to wasted 10 minutes hanging around for latecomers. Insist on punctuality from all attendees and start on the dot.

8. Do allow time for chat. Although you want the meeting to start and end on time, it's a great idea to let attendees chat on a personal level. This gives people a chance to form friendships and in turn this creates an atmosphere in which people will feel comfortable enough to be creative and forward-thinking.

9. Ditch the chairs. Standing up meetings are becoming popular in offices all over the world (we're big fans at Marie Claire). A stand-up can create a more dynamic, creative atmosphere and a sense of urgency meaning decisions get made quicker. These can work brilliantly for daily status update meetings.

Do you have any other meeting tips? Let us know in the comment box below.