Some meetings should never take place!! When the leader of the meeting has no control over them, they are a waste of time.

According to Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings. And with an estimated 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted. Source

11 million meetings are held in the United States each day on average. That adds up quickly to 55 million a week and 220 million a month. By the end of the year, the meeting total is well over a billion. Source: (accessed 4/18/15). – Dave Johnson, How Much do Useless Meetings Cost? CBS MoneyWatch (February 16, 2012).

The most frustrating meetings are when the boss let’s those with the loudest voice have too much time. Even trying to shut them up (politely) just doesn’t work. Then there’s the person in the room whose whole-body language says, I know best; no one else’s opinion matters’. What about the colleague who has plenty to say on the way to the meeting, and just sits there and says nothing in the meeting? Poorly run Meetings are an expensive waste of time.

Here are a couple of examples:

Howard is compliant, hesitant and diplomatic. He is well liked and respected among most of his team and peers. But when leading staff meetings, Howard fails to control difficult people who upset the balance of the meeting and leave most of the remainder of the team wishing they were somewhere else.

The discussions tend to be unbalanced and very little gets resolved or decide upon.

Phil is the CEO and on one occasion sits in on the team meeting. He senses the atmosphere has no healthy positive energy; it’s heavy and negative; people are frustrated and deflated. Nothing is agreed. Phil knows he needs to work with Howard to improve his leadership skills.

Phil is goal driven, ambitious and yet understands the impact of knowing how to communicate with a range of people. Phil appreciates the importance of getting results through people management and strong strategic leadership.

Using his own experience as an example, Phil talks to Howard about how he felt when leaving the meeting. He explained that Howard needed to change the dynamic of the meeting in order to ensure people didn’t leave feeling frustrated, deflated and lacking a sense of direction. Phil explained to Howard the relevance to his leadership style of understanding behaviours. Further, he talked about the significance of becoming more effective and efficient in terms of managing individual communication styles. He explained that leadership required a person to adapt their own behavioural style to build relationships and meet the performance needs of a specific situation and in this scenario to manage meetings more effectively.

Had Howard understood the dynamics and communication styles in the room and gained insight into his own communication and behavioural approach, he would have known how to manage individuals and control the meeting. Phil used examples of how he should be communicated with to help Howard understand communication styles. He then contrasted that with how Howard would wish to be communicated with. Very quickly Howard realized that he needed to gain insight into understanding communication styles if his meetings were to be effective in the future.


1. Allow a short time to discuss family, life and non-work issues upfront
2. Communicate at a slower pace and do not make them feel pressured – keep it even
3. Have office meetings in a more living room environment
4. Show with empathy that you care about their well-being and desire the best outcome for them.
5. Give them step-by-step instructions to avoid any feelings of chaos.
6. Provide lower end estimates of returns and keep them diversified
7. Communicate security and the safety buffers
8. Ask them how much contact they would like with you and what type (email, phone etc.)
9. Indicate your feelings about the recommendations and get them to discuss theirs
10. Invite them to group workshops and demonstrate how solutions work


1. No long stories, keep to the point
2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
6. Provide bullet points
7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best- and worst-case scenario
8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers

Do you know what your communication style is? How do you think you might be seen by others in meetings? Find out FREE, my pleasure, at


Carol Pocklington is a Human Performance Accelerator. She has worked with Hugh Massie since 2001 as the DNA Behavior concept was conceived. She works with people and businesses worldwide. Her real-world application of behavioural insights, gives her the capability to serve as a business strategist, coach, mentor, and trainer. She is also a prolific blogger, a public speaker and author, specializing in human behavioural insights.


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