What are poor meeting behaviours costing you?


We’ve probably all been there.  That three hour meeting that ends with a call for another meeting.  Reflecting on this (after a recent meeting like that), one reason could be the way people behave when they’re there.

It’s now socially acceptable to have your phone or laptop open while attending a meeting.  Sometimes, this is quite right – you need to find a key statistic, you’re taking notes or you may need to keep an eye out for an important email or call.  But it can also be the phone or laptop is the channel for doing other work, writing emails to others, chatting to colleagues, researching work – or non-work – subjects, or looking for something more entertaining than the meeting.

Imagine that these behaviours were being acted out, not virtually through the laptop, tablet or phone, but in the real world.  It would look like the top picture above – with people absorbed in other work, chatting to others, talking on phones or absent-mindedly gazing through the window.  And if this sort of thing were going on, then we’d see why we were sitting through unproductive meetings.  We wouldn’t put up with this, would we? 

We can easily get into a vicious circle, where badly planned or run meetings lead people to find more productive things to do in the virtual world, which in turn leads to slower and less effective meetings.

So, what’s the answer?

At our recent Prederi team meeting we decided to illustrate what the bad behaviours in the virtual world would look like in a real meeting (the top picture) – and the contrast that with a focused meeting (the bottom picture).  As our New Years Resolution, we also adopted 6-Ps for productive meetings:

  • Have a Point
  • Be Prepared
  • Be Punctual
  • Be Present
  • Be Polite
  • Be Professional

What’s the biggest challenge you face in cultivating good meeting behaviours and having productive meetings?

Meet the author

Ian Bennett

Ian Bennett

Ian is an expert in change management, efficiency reviews, business cases and costing in the public sector. Ian has over 30 years of experience of working in the public sector, as a civil servant, an auditor and as a consultant, covering central and local government, defence,… Read more »