7 Causes of Ineffective Meetings and How to overcome them

At its best, a business meeting is a constructive forum at which new ideas can be proposed and brainstormed, progress discussed, plans laid and problems solved. A meeting's effectiveness 'or lack of' is entirely attributable to the way in which it has been planned, is conducted and is followed up. Arranging and chairing business meetings is a typical aspect of a leader's or manager's role, and whilst it might seem a straightforward task in principle, all too often well-intended meetings can become ineffective due to a lack of proper organisation.


Making Meetings Work , a practical and useful module offered by business skills training experts Maguire Training, equips delegates with the skills and knowledge they require in order to be able to arrange, host and follow-up business meetings to ensure that the greatest value is obtained from them.


Many factors can undermine the success of a business meeting, so here Maguire Training shares seven common causes of ineffective meetings and how to overcome them.

    • Vital meeting participants aren't in attendance

      Invite only those people who are most closely involved and will have the most to contribute in respect of the subject and purpose of the meeting. Take care to schedule the meeting at a mutually convenient time for all and provide ample notice and reminders.


    • Participants arrive unprepared for the meeting

      Prior to the meeting date, information including an agenda, details of the scope of the meeting and its required goals and outcomes should be circulated to all participants in sufficient time for them to prepare.


    • The meeting is unfocused and directionless resulting in wasted time

      Ensure that a suitable chairperson is selected who can lead the meeting, keep order, encourage each participant has the opportunity to contribute and ensure that timekeeping and focus are maintained.


    • The meeting has no clear starting point from which to progress

      It is incumbent upon the chairperson to open the meeting by concisely reiterating the scope and purpose of the meeting, the desired outcome and the contributions expected from members. Introduction concluded, the chairperson should then begin the discussion from the first point on the agenda.


    • Distractions, interruptions and off-topic conversations cause lost time

      The meeting should be located in an environment where interruptions are unlikely and ground rules should be set by the chairperson, such as turning off mobile phones and laptops for the duration of the meeting. Wandering conversation should be addressed and participants politely but firmly steered back to the topic at hand.


    • Important ideas, opinions, solutions and decisions are lost or misremembered

      A 'secretary' should be appointed prior to the meeting's commencement, tasked with taking notes, recording decisions and compiling detailed and accurate minutes for distribution to all of the participants following the meeting.

    • Insufficient meeting follow-up results in inactivity and lack of progress

      Along with the minutes, participants should be issued with a summary of the meeting's achievements and any agreed actions along with timescales for completion. After a suitable interval progress updates may be obtained either at a further meeting or via individual submissions from action holders.


Meetings are an essential part of the running and development of any business but they must be properly arranged, conducted and followed-up in order for them to be of maximum benefit. Business leaders and managers can easily acquire the skills they need to run effective and successful meetings, courtesy of Making Meetings Work which is helpfully provided both as a conventional classroom-based module and as online training delivered via Maguire Training's excellent mobile and E-learning system.

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