Why you should care about making meetings matter

06 March 2023

Principal consultant David Holden says organisations are only as strong as their weakest link.

Meetings are time-consuming and costly, so organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are well-run and that discussions and decisions that emerge from them are acted upon and not wasted.

It has often been said that a meeting is a device that can takes minutes but can last for hours. Anyone who has worked in a complex organisation knows just how true this is. If you’re going to be devoting lots of your precious time to meetings, it’s crucial to make sure it’s time well spent.

Meetings must have a purpose – a reason for participants to devote their precious time to engage, take decisions, keep things moving along in a positive way, and generally make things happen.

Organisations will want to ensure attendance at meetings only comprises those people who need to be present.

It is key that agenda for meetings cover the pertinent issues and are planned well in advance so that succinct papers can be produced.

Organisations should have cycles of business that stretch 12 months into the future so that colleagues know when they can expect to deliver their papers.

It is vital that papers are short, effective and understandable to all. Papers should be written with assurance in mind, ensuring they answer the question ‘so what?’

Papers need to be dispatched in a timely fashion, at least three or four clear days ahead of the meeting, to give participants time to read, digest and perhaps ask clarification question and undertake some background reading/research.

It is worth ensuring the organisation has the capacity and capability in administrative support to enable agenda papers, minutes action sheets and substantive papers to be written and dispatched on time. Good administrators will often have a set of minutes and actions produced within 24 hours in order that these can be checked – and action sheets issued to remind colleagues of actions.

The best chairs of meetings plan and study well in advance. They manage a timely agenda, ensuring that pertinent issues are discussed, as well as summarising discussions and advising on actions to be taken.

These are just a few of the ways to make meetings matter. If you want some support to help you save time and be more efficient and productive in the management of your meetings, please get in contact with us as we can assist you with:

  • reviewing terms of reference
  • writing agendas, minutes and papers
  • planning your meetings to get the most out of them

The GGI Academy can also help you ensure that your papers and minutes are written succinctly while still capturing everything that matters.

Find out more about GGI’s Making Meetings Matter offer – and about other ways we can make your governance simpler and more effective.

Meet the author: David Holden

Principal Consultant

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Prepared by GGI Development and Research LLP for the Good Governance Institute.

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