We all have to attend any number of meetings that may or may not add value to our professional lives. Meetings have been identified as one of the biggest time-wasting mechanisms in business and workplace processes. They are considered by 67% to be unproductive. Middle Managers spend 35% of their time in meetings and senior management 50%.  Many of us fail to make the most of meetings and attend the ones we shouldn’t and let the alpha personalities dominate,  and even when we attend we don’t get the best of any value out of them.

So how do you go about making the best use of your time and maximizing the return on that energy?

4 ways to make the most of meetings

Make the most of meetings

1. Be clear about your objectives

Business meetings are time-consuming so if you need to prioritize, then one way to benefit is to only attend meetings that serve a valuable function to your professional agenda and allow you to achieve your goals.  This might be related to the content of the meeting or the people attending.  Any request that is not directly related your career or business agenda should be reviewed carefully.

Read: 3 useful tips for setting career goals

2. Review the reason for the meeting

Geoffrey James in his book Business without Bullsh$t says there are 7 main reasons people hold meetings.

  1. To get you to decide something. (Probably useful to you.)
  2. To hone their own ideas. (Maybe useful to you.)
  3. To convey information. (Probably not useful; ask for a document instead)
  4. To test out a presentation. (Probably not useful unless it’s your boss.)
  5. To accomplish group writing. (Never useful to anybody.)
  6. To prove their own importance. (Never useful to anybody.)
  7. To fulfill a process step. (Never useful to anybody.)

This advice is helpful if it is a meeting you don’t necessarily have to attend.  Often times many of us attend meetings where we have no choice. This is usually related to our position in the pecking order.  It’s not easy to say to your boss “hold on a minute while I check my career goals.”  If the meeting is not relevant to your KPIs then you should definitely tell your boss.  

3. The 8th reason


There is another why people ask for meetings and that is to get something from you.  Usually linked to words such as “just” and “quick” they should be avoided at all costs. Usually masquerading as a networking update these meetings are time eaters

“Do you have time for a quick coffee/lunch/chat…..”

“I’d just like to run something by you/pick your brains”

Read: A lesson in how not to network

 3. Get In sync

Make sure your goals and the objectives for the meeting are in sync. The planets don’t have to be aligned, but unless the WIFM(What’s in it for me) question can be answered,  give that meeting a miss.

4. Prepare and deliver

Many of us go to meetings with the intention of sitting there until it’s over. Start to be brutal with yourself. Either pass or commit. If you commit, do it with serious intent. The one way to  stand out in meetings is to be well prepared with a relevant point or points, a determination to be heard and a willingness to take action and follow-up.  Make sure you know your stuff with any questions at the ready. Do you need to request any agenda items in advance? Remember failing to prepare is preparing to fail. 75% of women confess to feeling unconfident about speaking in meetings,  so make sure you are in the 25%.


If you want more tips and tricks to make the most of meeings join Dorothy Dalton and Gilly Weinstein in the Lead don’t Lead Workshop in Brussels on April 4th     

How to make your presence felt in meetings

About Dorothy Dalton

Dorothy is an International Talent Management Strategist, social entrepreneur and Co-Founder of 3Plus. She works on both sides of the executive search spectrum from” hire to retire”, specialising in sourcing hard to find candidates for executive search firms and international organisations, career transition coaching and training .