How to Turn Bad Meetings Into Good Meetings


February 6, 2023

Turning bad meetings into good meetings starts with a companywide commitment: We’ve got to stop over-meeting like this!

According to HR Dive, “Employees surveyed said they spend about 18 hours in weekly meetings, with about 11 of those hours belonging to crucial meetings. About five meetings could easily be skipped; respondents said, so long as ‘they were kept in the loop.'”

Equally concerning, Korn Ferry reports that noncritical meetings waste about $100 million a year at big organizations.

If every meeting is essential, then no meeting is essential. And quality suffers. The Harvard Business Review notes the following tell-tale signs of bad meetings:

  • A few people dominate the conversation
  • Leaders fail to create an environment for attendees to grasp the main idea and think critically
  • The purpose or goal is unclear

It’s time to rebalance the quantity/quality dilemma with four best practices for good meetings.


#1 – Good Meetings Always Have a Goal

Good meetings have a clear agenda, a path to success, and conclude with definitive next steps.

For this to happen, participants should stick to a script and eliminate non-essential plot points.

Team members should articulate these salient points in all communications proposing a meeting. Integris and other professional services firms have a large population of subject matter experts who carefully track their hours in CRMs. They’re always working on client matters.

For this reason, we recommend checking their availability with Scheduling Assistant in Outlook and being very intentional about the business rationale for their participation.

Learn More: Different Types of Meeting Goals


#2 – Give Everyone a Chance to Talk

Giving everyone a chance to talk is impossible with large groups but easily achievable with smaller gatherings.

A good meeting gets derailed when one person dominates the conversation. The 10-person marketing department at Integris follows the Framework and uses Teamwork Project Management to juggle a large volume of initiatives. Each person follows time parameters for the following categories in an hour-long meeting:

  • Headlines
  • Quarterly Rocks
  • IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve)
  • Action Items

This arrangement stops loquacious people in their tracks. It’s almost like you can hear a needle skipping on a vinyl record the second someone starts to deliver a mini Ted Talk.

We also segment our meetings into Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing, and Productization (to name a few), reducing the attendee headcount for each session. I’m required to attend Inbound and Outbound, but I recently opted to join Productization because it helps improve my Inbound and Outbound deliverables. And we never have all ten of us on the same call.


#3 – Reduce the Number of Meetings

Shopify took a severe stand to reduce meeting overload, announcing their plans to conduct a “calendar purge.” We directly quote the fine points of this novel productivity hack:

  • All recurring meetings with more than two people are removed in perpetuity.
  • No meetings can be held on Wednesdays.
  • Big meetings of more than 50 people can occur only within a 6-hour window on a specific day, with a limit of one a week.
  • Company leaders encourage workers to decline meeting invites and remove themselves from large internal chat groups.
  • A bot will serve as the “enforcer” of this new policy.

Other major companies are also limiting meetings. Meta, Clorox Co, and Twilio have instituted “no meeting days.” On that note, I think I’ll decline a meeting invite that just popped up.


#4 – Treat Time Like a Precious Commodity

Treating time like a precious commodity is exponentially easier every day after the age of forty.

Fictitious high-schooler Ferris Bueller was ahead of his time when he said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Data from Microsoft shows that employee time spent in meetings more than tripled in the first two years of the pandemic. This trend set the stage for permanent hybrid work environments and a sharp increase in meetings. We’re now at a fork in the road to reset the rules of the game.

The stakes have never been higher. “Unproductive meetings can hurt employee engagement and increase their intentions of quitting,” according to Steven Rogelberg, Professor of Organizational Science, Management, and Psychology at UNC–Charlotte.


The Road to More Effective Meetings

The road to recovery from ineffective meetings doesn’t begin until you realize there’s a problem.

Do you or someone you someone you love being productive with ever suffer from MAS, AKA Mindless Accept Syndrome?

This classic Ted Talk from Justin Bariso is a timeless gem and should be required viewing along with the following summary of guidelines to rock your meetings:

  • Give everyone a chance to talk.
  • Agree in advance on a goal and a path to attainment.
  • Only discuss information that pertains to the meeting.
  • All parties should walk away with concise next steps.
  • Improve credibility by eliminating unnecessary recurring meetings.
  • Set meetings to discuss things in detail.
  • Be respectful of others’ time.

Schedule a free consultation to get insights on the best tools to effectuate better meetings.


Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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