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What makes a business meeting worthwhile?

We can communicate with each other in ways that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago, but the business meeting still seems to be the most popular and relied upon means of deciding what needs to be done at work.

When done right, meetings can motivate, energise and empower your workforce. But a rambling, ill-prepared meeting is likely to be a frustrating waste of time that achieves nothing.

Research from the US estimates that a typical manager attends more than 60 meetings a month, but some $37 billion is wasted in unnecessary meetings each year.

And the more meetings employees attend, the more exhausted they feel and the greater they perceive their workload to be.

Too long and unfocused


Over here, only a third of senior managers think that the business meetings they attend help them perform better, a study from That People Thing has revealed.

More than half of respondents said the main problem is that meetings are too long, and two fifths said that lack of preparation was to blame, or colleagues veering off topic.

But when asked what makes a good meeting, three in five said it was about making clear decisions and more than two in five favoured vigorous debate and discussion.

Having decided whether a meeting is really necessary, the key seems to be preparation, staying focused on the agenda, and not overrunning. Timing is important too; last year, a study found that 10.38am was the optimal time to begin a meeting, and 4.02pm the worst.

Being inclusive so everyone is comfortable talking will allow a free-flowing exchange of ideas, and following up with a summary so that everyone knows what's expected of them is good practice.

And asking for feedback will help you make the next meeting even better.

Acas publications and services

Acas can help you with Employee engagement and has published a guide aimed at boosting it in your workplace: pdf icon Advisory booklet - The People Factor [937kb].

Acas experts can visit your organisation and work with you on all aspects of employment relations to create a happier, more satisfied, more productive and more engaged workforce. See Workshops, projects and business solutions or call the customer services team on 0300 123 1150.

Practical training is also available on essential Skills for supervisors and Staff retention, including courses on 'The route to successful employee engagement' and 'Toxic workplace cultures - how to avoid them'.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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