Better Meetings

Hello Friends!

Do you ever get the feeling you’re your own worst enemy?! Lately, I’ve found myself looking at my calendar and wondering when I might have time to actually *think*. Or breathe. There are so many meetings squeezed into the calendar, I can’t see any white space at all. 🤦‍♀️

I know I’m not alone in this. Absolutely everyone I talk to is in the same boat: overscheduled and overwhelmed. “When am I actually going to *work*?!” is the question du jour. 

So what can we actually DO about it?! That’s the $64 million question! 😉

The answer is: as much as possible, have better meetings. 

That’s the topic of this month’s newsletter, and something we really need to figure out together. We can’t change the calendar insanity alone – we need to become much more aware of how we’re planning not only our own time, but everyone else’s as well.

What do the experts say on the subject of meetings? Let’s dive in and see!


“Meetings should have as few people as possible, but all the right people.” 
~ Charles W. Scharf

Now there’s a concept! How many meetings have you been in, where you were just a bum on a chair?! Where you didn’t need to participate in any way, and therefore didn’t actually even listen fully? You know the ones – where you’re writing emails, camera off, and sort of half-listening with one ear only. 

You are definitely not alone! According to the Harvard Business Review, research has shown that:

  • 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings
  • 50% find meetings to be unproductive
  • 25% of meetings are spent discussing irrelevant issues
  • 75% of leaders have not received formal training on how to conduct a meeting

Holy unproductive, Batman!! No wonder we’re spending so much time getting so little done. 

But what can *I* do about it, I hear you ask. I found this article on “How to Improve a Meeting when You’re Not In Charge” not only has practical advice, but excellent examples of scripts* to use, including:

  • No agenda for the meeting you are attending
  • The meeting veering off the agenda
  • Meeting action items not getting done

There are also examples of what to say depending on how comfortable / psychologically safe you feel in your team. Super helpful!

*I love a good script – we all have great intentions but sometimes in the moment, I have no idea what to say to best get my point across. These sorts of scripts are gold in these situations. That’s one of the reasons I am such a huge fan of the Ask A Manager page – she gives helpful scripts for a multitude of situations.


We all know we have too many meetings. It would seem logical that one of the easiest ways to change that would be to cancel a few of them, right? 😉

The research actually backs that up! “A study of 76 companies that have deliberately reduced or eliminated meetings showed an increase in job satisfaction, communication, cooperation, and productivity, and a decrease in micromanaging and stress.” We think we need meetings to share information, create a team bond, and to collaborate with one another. Yet that isn’t actually the case. 

The researchers suggest a few different ways to build that collaboration and trust:

  1. Replace your morning check-in meeting with a check-in message
  2. Only hold meetings when absolutely necessary
  3. Let people opt out

Scheduling meetings on auto-pilot and not putting in the work to properly set up the meeting is killing our productivity, so let’s rethink this!


“You’ll plan your tasks, you’ll plan your time, but most of us never bother planning our meetings.”
~ Megan Hyatt Miller

Ooof. How true is this?! We have so many meetings that we don’t have time to think, and that often includes not having time to think about what we want to get of our meetings!

“It’s so easy for recurring meetings to become like habits. We don’t even remember why we started that meeting, if it’s necessary, if somebody else could lead it, if all the people at the meeting still need to be there.”

This episode of the Business Accelerator podcast (the source of the quotes above) on How to Reset your Expectations for Meetings has some great tips for planning better meetings. 

Their 5 Steps to Better Meetings:


      • is the meeting necessary?
      • type of meeting
      • format
      • is it worth your time? Do you need to be in the meeting?


      • Right people, right time, right duration, right channel


      • What is the result or outcome that you want from this meeting? 
      • An efficient meeting has an agenda and a Facilitator


      5.Follow up

        The majority of those steps happen before the meeting has even taken place!


        Reader, I went to the library! 
        In a rather embarrassing example of formulating an opinion based on one event and then never re-considering said opinion, I visited the local library back in 2006 (aka 18 years ago!!) when we first moved to Erlangen. There were hardly any English-language books there, and the majority were years, if not decades, old. So clearly the library has nothing to offer me, right?!

        Wrong. As you might have guessed, I revisited not only the library but my opinion last week. 😉 When a friend mentioned she gets lots of English books from our library, I thought I should give it a chance. And boy was I surprised! The library has 2 entire rooms dedicated to English-language books! I had my arms full with possible loans within minutes, and went home with 5 new books – not only new to me, but truly new on the market. Hoorah! Being able to change one’s mind for the win. 😊

        My first library read was The Switch by Beth O’Leary. I’d read a few of O’Leary’s books before, and while you always know from the start where the characters are going to end up, it is such an enjoyable journey getting there that it is absolutely worth it! 

        The Switch is the story of Leena, 28 years old and just put on mandatory leave for the next 8 weeks. While visiting her grandmother, Eileen, in Yorkshire, Leena comes up with the idea to have the two women switch lives for the 8 weeks. Leena wants to get out of London for a bit and clear the air; Eileen never got the chance to leave Yorkshire after falling pregnant and then quickly getting married decades ago. 

        It was such a funny, witty, charming story. The characters are so well-written and really become three-dimensional. You really care about and empathize with them. This was a page-turner for me and I really wanted to see how both Leena and Eileen fared, even though I knew they’d be all right in the end. 

        Such a sweet and endearing story. Loved it!

        [A personal appeal from me: despite the links, please do support your local book store or library if you can!]

        What is your experience with meeting overload? Have you had success reducing or streamlining your meetings and/or calendar? I’d love to hear what helped you if so! It would be great to share helpful resources on how to be a better meeting scheduler / coordinator / participant / facilitator! 

        I’m in Ireland this week, coaching the final in-person module of a 9-month leadership acceleration programme. Very much looking forward to it! 
        Hope you also have some exciting professional moments to look forward to! 
        Wishing you a wonderful July! 



        P.S.  This newsletter was entirely researched, planned, and written by me. No ghost writers and no A.I. As such, all opinions and errors are mine and mine alone. 

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