What is it worth to make your meetings both more efficient and more effective?

As I have been suggesting for the past several weeks, meetings can be improved in many different ways, both by reducing their costs (fewer meetings, shorter meetings, fewer participants, smaller conference rooms, and relying more on virtual meetings), and by improving their outcomes (crisper decisions, more explicit commitments to action, more active follow-up and feedback).

In the course of thinking through how meetings work, how they unfold, and what it takes to improve them, I’ve developed a formal “Meetings Quality Assessment” or a “MQA”, as well as a “Meetings ROI” formula (M-ROI). I’ve also clarified what kinds of actions can increase your MQA score or produce a positive M-ROI. [click to continue…]


Women Hand writing ROI Return on Investment

Over the last several weeks I have been exploring several basic ways to improve your organizational ROI for meetings.

Last week I talked about two complementary approaches to improving meeting efficiency:

  1. Holding fewer meetings
  2. Conducting shorter meetings

(See “The Business Case for Making Your Meetings Matter (Part 3)” for details).

Today I am focusing on how distributed meetings can reduce costs in dramatic ways. I then conclude by proposing an integrated, three-phase approach for jacking up that ROI.

Reducing Costs: Let Me Count the Ways

There are many kinds of savings that come from greater use of distributed meetings. Note that some of these benefits accrue to organizations, some to individuals, and some to society more broadly. [click to continue…]


return on investmentOver the last two weeks, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” and “The Business Case for Making Your Meetings Matter (Part Two),” I have been sharing several basic ideas for improving your organizational ROI for meetings.

Clearly, the only thing that ultimately matters about any meeting is the quality of the decisions made or the ideas developed during the meeting. However, even if a particular meeting doesn’t produce all the desired outcomes, there can still be value from the conversation:

Even if on the surface the group failed to complete its task, it is worth remembering that the participants may have forged new relationships, learned important facts about the issue or each other, or generated new ideas that will eventually produce even more meaningful results. (from Chapter 8, page 193, Making Meetings Matter)

Reducing Costs

Today I want to focus on reducing the cost of your meetings. [click to continue…]

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covermeetingAre you frustrated by all the time you waste in lousy, boring, unproductive meetings? Are you ready to do something about it?

Last week, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” I described the only two ways you can enhance meeting productivity:

  • Improving outcomes – better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs – fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings; leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

It really is that simple. Now it’s time to dig into those two objectives to identify specific tactics you can embrace right now to improve your ROI on meetings. We’ll focus today on Improving Outcomes, and devote next week’s post to Reducing Costs (although it’s actually artificial to separate these two strategies, as they usually go hand-in-hand). [click to continue…]

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change-management meetingI’ve been studying and writing about organizational meetings for years. And I’ve offered lots of tips, techniques, and “rules” for making your meetings matter – to the organization, to your staff, and to yourself (see my new website,, for details about my new book and associated service offerings; and scan my past blog posts for loads of ideas and recommendations).

But I haven’t spent enough time discussing why making meetings matter is so important. In other words, what is the business case for changing the way you design and lead meetings?

To do that we have to look at the two dimensions of effectiveness:

  • Improving outcomes:  better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings, leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

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2016 year calendar. September calendar on a white background. 3d renderingRemember that old song, “I’ll See You in September”? Made popular by a 60’s group called “The Happenings” (who are still going strong), it was a melancholy farewell between two lovers at the beginning of a summer vacation that was splitting them apart. The lyrics included this verse:


See you in September
See you when the summer’s through
Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)
Saying goodbye at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)
Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)
Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)

Well, right now September is this Thursday (!). Summer is officially over next Monday (Labor Day in the United States), and those of us in North America and Europe are gearing up for a busy fall that will undoubtedly unfold at a furious pace. Of course, summer is no longer the slow, lazy-hazy days it used be, either.

But my point is simple: fall is a time of year when we are more energized, more focused, and more ambitious. We return from our summer vacations and office slow-downs ready to “hit the ground running.” Most of us are committed to making progress on all those To-Do lists and business goals we’ve been avoiding for too long. [click to continue…]


Group Meeting

There is no question that the future of work is centered around meetings. Meetings are the way people share ideas, learn from each, collaborate to produce new knowledge, solve problems, and make decisions.

Meetings are central to the future of work, yet most people I talk to complain that their meetings are horribly mismanaged most of the time, and are all too often a painful waste of their time.

That’s why I am on a crusade to make every meeting matter.

The first step to making your meetings matter is to be more intentional about them. And that starts with being exceptionally clear about why you are calling the meeting and what purpose you want it to accomplish.

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, a meeting is not a meeting is not a meeting. [click to continue…]


mmm180x490pxsmallAre you ready to become a smart meeting leader?

I invite you to join me on Tuesday, April, 26, at 4 PM Eastern time, for a free one-hour online conversation focused on “Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age.”

You can register here:

Registration URL:
Webinar ID: 146-058-459

In this inaugural offering I will identify why a new mindset is essential, describe the “P4+” model of meeting leadership I’ve developed, discuss how it produces meetings that are both productive and popular, and offer practical tips for engaging your meeting participants in creative, constructive conversations.

Participating in this program will enable you to:

  • Understand how the digital age differs from the industrial age;
  • Know why collaborative leadership is so central to success in the digital age;
  • Describe the behaviors of collaborative leaders;
  • Ask questions that draw out the ideas, insights, and experiences of others; and
  • Bring your meetings to an effective ending that achieves your desired outcomes.

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qmark1If you accept the idea that a meeting leader’s role is to orchestrate the conversation, or to sense and guide, then pay very close attention to what every participant is saying, and what emotions they are expressing. But listen for understanding, not to judge or evaluate what is being said.

As conversation expert Judith Glaser explains in Conversational Intelligence (link is to,

When we listen to connect we open and expand the space, allowing [the speakers’] aspirational [selves] to emerge. [When] we think out loud with them, and share our dreams with them and co-create with them we all experience ourselves in a new way.

Ask penetrating, open-ended questions, and add follow-up questions that extend your understanding. In the back of your mind you might question the validity of a statement, or be upset about a negative tone of voice. But remember that as the meeting leader you want to create an environment where everyone feels safe and free to express themselves, no matter what the content of their message (within the bounds of civility, of course). [click to continue…]

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Business People Meeting

I’ve said it many times:  meetings are the very heart of the future of work. Meetings are the way knowledge workers learn, communicate, problem-solve, create, share ideas, influence others, and inspire. They are the way work gets done in a world overwhelmed with information. We sort out the wheat from the chaff, we develop new ideas, and we build consensus in meetings.

But how effective are the meetings you participate in, or lead? Almost everyone I talk to complains about the meetings they attend. Over and over I hear terms like “boring,” “a waste of time,” “horrible,” and “never get anything done.”

If that’s what you are hearing or feeling about the meetings you attend and/or lead, what are you doing about it? [click to continue…]