7 practical tips to make internal meetings more productive

We have all attended them, the meeting that rambles on with no clear focus or outcomes, where petty squabbles and side issues suck the energy out of the room. You may be asked to chair one of these meetings so here are 7 tips that will help you create a productive meeting that will deliver results.

  1. Create a short agenda and circulate to all of those attending with the minutes of the last meeting plus any relevant documents at least 3 days in advance. The expectation is that everyone reads the documentation and so is ready to move through the agenda quickly. (I remember in one organisation, the Board were not circulated the minutes of the previous meeting so the CEO read them out, an exercise that wasted 15 minutes of everybody's time).

  2. Important - all devices are to be left outside of the room. The idea of these meetings is to be short and focussed, ideally less than an hour. If devices are in the room they are a distraction, even on silent as any notification will draw the attention of the attendees. If someone says they are expecting an important call, exclude them from the meeting. There are very few circumstances where a call cannot wait for an hour.

  3. The meeting starts on time and finishes on time. This requires discipline but people will learn very quickly that they need to be there 5 minutes before the start rather than be embarrassed by coming in late and that it finishes on time which they will appreciate.

  4. The Agenda should be focussed with time allocated to each item. Be strong and don't let the time drift. If necessary say that you will either remove a less important item to accommodate this topic if something important develops or carry it forward to the next meeting. Updates can be in the format of what is going well and what help do you need.

  5. Side issues and petty squabbles are frequent attendees at internal meetings. This is where you must take control and nip them in the bud. Remind attendees in the strongest terms that they are drifting off the subject and need to deal with these side issues outside of this forum. If it persists ask them to leave.

  6. Agree clear actions and assign them to individuals. Do not let ambiguity put you in a position where at the next meeting someone is saying 'I thought that you were doing that'.

  7. Finally, circulate the minutes of the meeting within 24 hours to each of the relevant parties.

You maybe thinking that attendees will not accept these rules but from 40+ years of experience I know that you will be respected for running a tight ship that delivers real results.

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Alec Drew, KBE shares his passion and knowledge around productivity and communications in the professional services sector. A major part of his 40 years in business was spent as Managing Partner of a highly successful branding agency where he worked with a wide range of CEO’s across all sectors. His insightful questioning and straight talking opened up new conversations, giving them fresh insights into their own organisations and uncovering valuable revenue streams that were previously overlooked. One strategy helped his clients achieve €3.23 billion in additional sales over a 5 year period.

He demonstrates the positive effect on shareholder value when all levels of an organisation speak the same language.  


As an international speaker he shows very quickly how a simple shift in mindset can have such a positive impact on the bottom line. He hates waffle, verbose explanations and jargon and his talks get straight to the point in a no nonsense but entertaining way. ’Technology - The Time Thief’ is a fresh and honest look at the combined effects of technology and communications not just on business but on society as a whole.


He hosts a weekly radio show where business leaders from all sectors share seminal moments in their lives. Asking insightful questions he encourages guests to retrace their steps from the start of their career to where they are now and talk about key influencers that shaped their success. It gives listeners their weekly fix of encouragement to believe in themselves and demonstrates the abundance of resources that are available to help you complete your journey to destination SUCCESS.  


He is Past President of the Professional Speaking Association, Ireland, a member of the PSA and the Global Speaking Federation. 


'The concept of business is simple until you let a human being near it' - Alec Drew