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The art of effective meetings

The art of effective meetings

25th February 2020

It’s safe to say, Elon Musk gets a lot done – and he expects the same from his employees.

In an email leaked to the press a couple of years ago, Musk urged Tesla’s 45,000+ employees to embrace his productivity hacks to help improve company-wide production. Meetings featured heavily in the email, with Musk sharing his three rules for better meetings: 1. No large meetings 2. If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave 3. No frequent meetings. Advising employees to walk out of meetings may seem extreme, but his words struck a chord with many people and posed the question – how many of us spend time in meetings that could be spent doing something more valuable?

Meetings are important. They’re often where ideas are born and key decisions are made, but the statistics are concerning. A survey found that UK office workers spend an average of 10 hours 42 minutes preparing for 4.4 meetings every week. That’s over a fifth of the working week. And what’s even more startling is that only 2.6 of these meetings (59%) are deemed necessary.

With meetings crowding diaries and headspace, how can we avoid the dysfunctional and master the art of effective meetings?


Planning may sound obvious, but we’ve all been there – poorly organised meetings are doomed to fail. A good plan starts with the objectives – what do you want to achieve from the meeting? Once you’ve identified your goals, consider who needs to attend. It’s important to be selective in reflection of Musk’s first rule as people are often invited to meetings they don’t need to attend (think this is you? It’s OK to say no). However, a decision maker should always be present. And if they can’t attend, postpone the meeting. After all, your meeting is redundant if key decisions can’t be made.


One word – agenda. The bedrock of any meeting, your agenda should be created well in advance (not the day before) and may need input from more than one person. Going back to your meeting objectives, make sure everything on the agenda is aligned to achieving your desired outcomes. The golden rule of an agenda? Stick to it!

Always start on time. If you have issues with a notorious Johnny-come-lately, try introducing a rule whereby the last person to arrive takes the minutes. And, remember, if your meeting is in the diary for an hour, you don’t need to fill the time. If you finish early, it’s OK to cut the meeting short. Trust us, everyone will thank you.


Now for the most important bit. End your meeting with an action list, but rather than dishing out responsibilities and deadlines, hold each member of the meeting accountable. Ask them to confirm their own tasks along with a reasonable date of when they will deliver each one. This verbal commitment will help avoid any miscommunications or doubt and ensure that your outcomes are delivered, on time.

Mix it up

Armed with these three simple steps, those frustrating meetings with no direction or results should be a thing of the past, but there are other things you can try to breathe life back into your meetings. A change of scenery can help get creative juices flowing – why not hire one of your nearest Thrive meeting rooms? Standing meetings are great for quick team updates, with loads of health benefits thrown in. And, if the weather’s good, holding a meeting outside will not only provide a change of environment, but it’ll also boost your team’s vitamin D levels.

Thrive provides bookable meeting rooms with the latest technology, free parking and complimentary tea and coffee across the North West. Prices start at just £20 per hour – find out more.

Category - Blog

Thrive Culture@thriveofficespace

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