Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered a) what on earth you were doing there and b) whether there was any way to escape and find something more useful to do with your time?
We’ve all been there. So what can we do to change this? Well, here are five quick tips to improve your meetings and in turn, improve your productivity!

Skip Meetings!

The truth is, meetings seem to the organiser like a “free” activity, whereas in reality, meetings are one of the costliest business activities there are. They not only cost our organisations money, but they rob us of our attention. Tim Ferriss has a great take on this in his book “The 4- Hour Work Week” where he suggests a range of cheeky tactics to avoid meetings. He suggests doing everything possible to skip those two hour update meetings and simply read the minutes or catch a quick update from a colleague. Cheating is OK! Tim’s general approach to productivity is pretty ruthless and not for everyone, but here he is talking about the book.


Think about the last few meetings you attended. At each of those meetings, do you remember the chair reminding people of the purpose of the meeting at the very beginning and revisiting that purpose at the end? Probably not! Purpose is critical, and meetings (usually) need leadership, so don’t be afraid to be the one clarifying the purpose beforehand or drawing people back to it as the meeting goes on.


2 hour update meetings are long, boring and inefficient, whereas if you break that same update communication into a structured 15 minutes a day, you’ll actually start to see amazing results from relentless alignment to the key numbers and key questions in your team or in your company. At Think Productive UK, we developed a daily huddle based on the principles from Verne Harnish’s excellent book “Mastering the Rockerfeller Habits”. Here’s me explaining more.

Being prepared

If you’re the one running a meeting, you need to ensure you’ve covered all the bases. Our meetings magician, Martin Farrell, runs meetings with the UN Climate Change Secretariat, the Cabinet Office and a range of international organisations. Here he is talking about his 5P’s+1 framework, which helps keep everything on track.

Follow through!

If you’re running a meeting, try to focus your time and energy using the 40-20-40 approach: spend 40% of your focus on the preparation, 20% on the session itself and 40% on productive follow-through, holding people to account and ensuring that agreements are kept-to. We usually focus most of our energy on the meeting itself, and miss the two most important stages. The 40-20-40 approach is from the excellent book, Meeting together.

Hope these tips help you make your Meetings Magic!

Free- Productive! Magazine

Our friend Michael at Nozbe is also the head honcho over at Productive! Magazine, for which I’m a guest contributor. You can download the magazine for free here and there’s also a rather beautiful iPad app as well – check it out!

Bring a Productivity Ninja to sort out your office!

We’d love to talk to you about our in-house workshops: Getting Your Inbox to Zero, Email Etiquette, How to Get Things Done, Making Meetings Magic, Smells Like Team Spirit & How to be a Productivity Ninja.

Or come along to one of our public workshops…

Click on the relevant date below to book your place now – with our new 3 tiered pricing system. Fair, transparent and a fantastic return on investment.

The South West

Friday, 18th November

The South East

Tuesday, 27th September
Friday, 11th November
2012 London dates

The Midlands and the North

Friday, 2nd December

Have a playful, productive month and we’ll see you in October!

By Graham Allcott