Meeting management: The Bored Room

As a lead adviser I am currently involved in about 17 live transactions, have five active mentoring relationships, sit on six boards as a non exec, and on two as an exec. Plus am just in the final stages of my fourth book and about to start my fifth. Just a tad busy!

Each and every client must believe they are number one. The trouble is some meetings can be so, so boring. I am no women’s libber, absolutely not, nor am I a hardened feminist, but I do find, by and large, it’s often my male colleagues and associates who do not get to the point. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve witnessed the dancing-round-the-table routine at meetings. My own style is to get straight to the point (politely, naturally) – the fact is, I have another 1,001 things to get through.

Sometimes this goes down well but, I admit, I have been accused of being abrupt.

To avoid being seen as rude, I have learned a few simple rules that allow the meetings to stay on focus. These don’t work for impromptu meetings. But for more formal settings such as negotiation and board meetings, they work well for me.

1) Have a clear pre-issued agenda that all parties have agreed upon.

2) Allocate time to each item. This stops people running away with things and critical items not being given sufficient air time.

3) Make sure you have a good chair that controls the debate in the appropriate manner.

4) Take and retain minutes. Allocate responsibility for each action.

5) Prevent meeting saboteurs by banning AOB. If you must have this, put it at the start of the meeting agenda. 

Finally, and above all, don’t be hostile. It rarely has long term benefits and is perceived by others as juvenile at best.

Jo Haigh is head of corporate finance for Corporate Finance Services. She can be contacted on 01274 868 958/07850 475878 or at Jo.haigh@corpfinservices.co.uk 

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