Mastering the Meeting

As leaders we’ve all been in those frustrating situations where we host a meeting in order to drive a project forward, however, we fail to get the outcomes we were hoping to get. 

In some cases, this might be because participants are not prepared, or don’t understand why they are there – leaving them susceptible to getting distracted by their phones or drifting in and out of the meeting without contributing. 

On the flip side, sometimes we have cases where your team are almost ‘too excited’ to be there. Lots of discussions, conversations and brainstorming happening can lead to tangents, potentially becoming an ineffective use of everyone’s time. Before you know it, the meeting is over, and no real decisions have been made.

Years ago, the art of mastering meetings was often attributed to how well you structured different components of a meeting. Do you have an agenda? Is someone taking minutes? Is someone tracking action items throughout?

While these elements are all still useful, that solution on its own is not enough. 


Because solely focusing on the technical components of a meeting means that we are failing to recognise what makes a meeting great in the first place – aligned and engaged conversation.

Regardless of the meeting challenges you face, most of these can be solved by using our simple framework designed specifically to help leaders.

This framework goes deeper than simply setting an effective agenda. Instead, it will empower you to inspire your team to always be the best version of themselves, take ownership and leave the meeting with clarity around what they need to action and how this contributes to the organisation’s bigger priorities and goals.

Stage One: Before the Meeting

The key outcome of any meeting should be to reach conclusions and make decisions. To do this you need to consider two key things:

  1. Choose your participants wisely. Rather than inviting people for the sake of it, determine who actually needs to be in the room to contribute and be able to make the decisions you need.
  2. Provide participants with as much information as possible in the lead-up. The reason many meetings are ineffective is that participants are underprepared. The meeting becomes too heavily focused on sharing information and giving updates, rather than discussing points of action and making decisions. This can be avoided by ensuring everyone is adequately briefed beforehand. Set a clear agenda with topics arranged by priority and consider sharing a memo as pre-work for team members to read to ensure they are up to date with the necessary context.

Stage Two: The Mindful Frame-Up 

Once the preparation has been done, it’s time to focus on how to actually host the meeting effectively. Before getting into the nitty-gritty details in any meeting, make sure you: 

  • Take a moment (breathe, connect, energise, and focus). Use the beginning of a meeting as an opportunity to casually check in with your team. Ask them how their weekend was or how their family is going. While this conversation may not be relevant to the tasks at hand, and you may be tempted to jump straight into the heart of the meeting, taking a moment to connect with participants and show you care will actually help you engage team members and make them feel present. 
  • Clarify the ‘why’ for all participants. Before diving into the heart of the discussion, make sure you clarify the overall purpose of the meeting and why people are there. If possible, link the purpose of the meeting back to your overall strategic objectives and organisational values. 
  • Address the ‘how’ and ‘what’. This is an opportunity to briefly touch on how you will run the meeting, the outcomes you as a team need to reach, and the expectations from people in the room.

Stage Three: The Mindful Middle

Now we’ve reached the heart of the meeting. This is your chance to make sure your team feel significant and unique, recognise growth and learning opportunities, and help them see how they can personally contribute to the cause or project you are discussing. 

To ensure your team remain actively engaged and present throughout this important stage of the meeting, remember to:

  • Enable active listening. It’s easy to get sidetracked with our agenda in a meeting, and power through tasks and deliverables. This is the quickest way to lose the attention of participants. Instead, remember to encourage active listening by maintaining eye contact, asking questions and including all team members in the conversation. Read our thought piece on active listening here.
  • Re-engage anyone who ‘drifts out’. Keep track of the body language and behaviours of participants. If you notice someone disengaging or getting distracted from the meeting, invite them back in by asking for their opinion or contribution to something.

Stage Four: The Mindful Close

How you finish a meeting will have a huge impact on whether what you discussed actually gets executed by your team. Even if you are pressed for time, make sure everyone leaves with a sense of commitment and understanding of what they need to do next.

You can do this by: 

  • Summarising the meeting. Briefly summarise why you held the meeting in the first place and how this meeting links back to that. What decisions were made? How have you helped drive a particular initiative forward?
  • Playing back the commitments made. Never end a meeting without reiterating the commitments made by each member of the team. What needs to be actioned as a result of this meeting? Who is taking ownership of specific elements? It’s crucial that everyone leaves the room with clarity around this to ensure the meeting was effective.
  • Giving recognition. Don’t forget to recognise the contributions of people who attended the meeting. If someone had a great idea or reported back some outstanding results, remember to praise this at the end. Small moments of recognition can have a lasting impact on team members and can encourage them to continue to take ownership and grow.

We wish you all the best in implementing this framework into your next meeting. Let us know how it goes!


More Resources

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!