Sarah Irwin
Sarah Irwin SME Community Director at SavvySME


How can I make my meetings more effective?

Whenever I run meetings with clients, I often find things can stretch out beyond the core objectives I wanted for the event. 

I know I had a previous CEO who would take a block-walk meeting - he would walk around the block once with his team member and felt they were able to effectively restrict the time they had together to focus on the critical issues and also got them out of the office for a short time. 

What strategies do you use to make your meetings run better?

Top voted answer
Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne, director at

Top 10% Branding

Always have an agenda, and then stick to it. No more than 5 items per meeting, with a designated timeframe for each subject. That could be 5 minutes each for a half hour meeting, or ten minutes each to get out in under an hour. Ensure everyone involved knows the time limit. Make the first item one that you know can be brought quickly to a conclusion. This gives those involved a small rush of achievement, allowing the following items to be approached in a positive light. It may also free up more time to be added on the end.Tackle the next three in order of importance and if an outcome is not achieved within the designated time, adjourn the subject. Make simple notes about what progress was reached that can be carried into the followup.Leave any open-ended subjects until the final item. It can be one that requires more thought or development from the attendees. Then when next on the agenda, it moves up the list and can hopefully, be dealt with in a timely fashion.It's not a foolproof system, but it works for me. I use it for client meetings, casual internal meetings and formal committee meetings occurring regularly.

Sarah Irwin

Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

I like the idea of starting on a positive note, it sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.

Terry Chadban

Terry Chadban, Founder/Manager at Port Macquarie Online Marketing

Hi Sarah,

We recommend Gino Wickman's Level 10 Meeting template from his book "Traction" -- it limits the meeting to EXACTLY 90 minutes every time!


Sarah Irwin

Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

Thank you for that resource!

Greg Rogers

Greg Rogers, Founder and CEO at REthink HQ

Hi Sarah,

I'm on a role today and loving communicating with fellow Savvy SME members.

All sound advice that you have received, I would pare it back even more.

The FIRST step to having an effective meeting is knowing (in detail) the outcome/s from the meeting. Without knowing that how can you measure (not assume...let's not go there) if it was an effective meeting or not.

Your effective will be a completely different effective to the next person.

Effective should equal what were the actions agreed to be taken and how will we know we have achieved them when next we meet or communicate.

Don't look for the start, look for the finish that's where the result/goal/target lies and then reverse engineer it from there.

Use my 5Ps framework

Plan (must equal the payoff) - Prepare - Participate - Progress - Payoff.

All the best.


Sarah Irwin

Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

Thank you, I appreciate the advice and must say I like the 5 P's Framework. I have always performed better in meetings when I went in with a plan and preparation work done.