How to hold a successful meeting


Another day full of back-to-back meetings?  Here are some simple ways to make sure your meetings at Macquarie are meaningful and effective.

Imagine if you walked away from every meeting feeling like it was a valuable use of everyone’s time. It’s not as far-fetched as you may think. By using these three guiding principles, you can ensure a successful meeting every time:

(1) Be purpose-led and outcome focused
A purpose-led meeting clearly outlines the reasons why you are holding it, which will encourage attendance and help you to stay on track during the meeting. For example, ‘we have come together to share information about the new strategy’.
An outcome focused meeting requires you to articulate what you want to accomplish or what end-result you are seeking by holding the meeting. For example, ‘We are meeting today so that we have clarity around our strategy and decide on what we will be doing within our individual teams to implement it.’

(2) Prepare and communicate
Communicating the meeting purpose and desired outcomes beforehand means attendees are more likely to prepare for it, and more likely to attend. It also allows invitees to opt-out if the topic is not relevant or they feel they cannot add value. Reminding attendees again at commencement of the meeting establishes the right mindset and means they’re more likely to participate and stay focused.

(3) Adopt the right structure for the right meeting
Adopting a simple meeting structure will help keep you on track and provide clarity and consistency. As the meeting organiser your reputation for holding good or not-so good meetings will have an impact on team attendance and engagement for future meetings.

There are lots of meeting models out there, however here’s a simple one called the ‘PODS’ model. It can be used it for 1-1’s, small huddles, team meetings or even larger presentation-style meetings.



Clearly outline the purpose of the meeting

One of the biggest complaints people make about meetings is ‘not knowing why I’m here’. Giving people a clear meeting purpose allows them to prepare properly, participate fully and stay on track with conversation.

What outcomes do we want to drive from holding this meeting?

If you’re not exactly sure what you’re trying to accomplish with your meeting, you won’t accomplish it. As meeting organiser, it’s your responsibility to have clarity about what outcomes you want to drive, and to let the meeting group know what they are.

What decisions need to be made at the meeting?

Sometimes the decision might be just an endorsement to move ahead or to take/not take some kind of action. Sometimes it’s a bigger decision with people or financial implications. Whatever it is, spell it out and don’t leave the room before the decision is made.

Use the right structure, for the right outcomes.


There are many different ways to hold a meeting so it’s important to plan your structure to drive the right outcomes. From presentation-style, workshops or forums through to discussion-based meetings or project updates, make sure you explain the structure at the outset.
In addition to these guiding principles, here are eight tips for successful meetings

1. Invest time in the agenda
Ensure there’s a clear agenda outlining the purpose and desired outcomes of the meeting and that everyone in attendance gets a copy prior to the meeting.

2. Specify how attendees should prepare for the meeting
Pre-reads are very useful and provide consistency of baseline information for the group allowing the meeting to be more efficient. They’re also useful so the team can read background materials and prepare their initial thoughts for each agenda item ahead of time.

3. Who needs to be there?
Ask yourself, do all of these people really need to attend? Or could some of them just receive a brief email summary, quick call or update from their manager afterwards? Reducing a half-hour meeting list by, say, four people whose presence isn’t essential, that’s two hours of productive time returned to the organisation.

4. Be efficient with your – and others’ – time
Think about scheduling half the time you usually would. Meetings are like accordions – they stretch naturally to fill the allotted space.

5. Don’t start late
Way too much time is wasted on late arrivals. Don’t wait for latecomers, start on time.

6. Consider holding a stand-up meeting
There’s some (old but good) research showing that stand-up meetings can be more efficient than sit-downs. In one study, groups who were standing took around one-third less time to make decisions than those who were seated, with no loss in the quality of decisions.

7. Identify who is responsible for leading each topic
Someone other than the formal meeting leader is often responsible for leading the discussion of a particular agenda item. Identifying this person next to the agenda item to ensure they prepare for it before the meeting.

8. Think about occasionally asking for quick feedback
If your team meets regularly, ask every now and again: What did we do well? What do we want to do differently for the next meeting?





Back to homepage


We encourage active and constructive debate through our comments section, but please remain respectful. Your first and last name will be published alongside your comment.

Comments will not be pre-moderated but any comments deemed to be offensive, obscene, intimidating, discriminatory or defamatory will be removed and further action may be taken where such conduct breaches University policy or standards. Please keep in mind that This Week is a public site and comments should not contain information that is confidential or commercial in confidence.

  1. Excellent topic, in these post-pandemic times, meetings have doubled, now there are face-to-face + virtual meetings, with the same results, little efficiency, the same topics are discussed without action points, this post is very productive, it will be time to apply each advice and I will tell you the results.

  2. Hello everyone!
    This topic has been very helpful to me in all aspects, I have given a few presentations in the past and I have already seen that I have made some mistakes, such as waiting for latecomers to start and not knowing how to choose who needs to be there.

    Now I will use this knowledge in all my presentations to be more effective when teaching a specific topic.

  3. J’assiste souvent a des réunions mais ces méthodes ne sont utilisées et centaines réunions durent sans but précis. merci pour les conseils très édifiants

  4. Me parece muy interesante como se debe preparar una reunión y dejar en claro el objetivo de la misma para que sea más productiva

  5. Excellent guidance to improve efficiency and productivity. I hear many times people complaining that they attend meeting after meeting and don’t have time to do their job in time.

  6. Very good structured approach to get rid of endless and sometimes well defined purposeless meetings that choke our calendars.

  7. This guiding principles are helpful for my current work. I do organize meetings with my team regularly . However some time there is no decision taken or solutions for improvement suggested. This time I handle meetings in a different manner in order to integrate the new skills for this course. Many thanks to the lectures

Comments are closed.

Got a story to share?

Visit our contribute page >>