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What’s Really Going on in Your Meetings?


Written By:

Ginny Baillie

Trusted Leadership Coach and Culture Change Consultant



Do you know what your meetings are for?

85%* of people say meetings need to change. It’s not a surprising statistic, everyone knows what it is to sit in dull, unproductive, back-to-back meetings.

The internet is awash with glossy infographics about how to run better meetings. YouTube videos, with the perfect 5-point plans, exist in their 100’s. There are over 10,000 books on the subject on Amazon.

So why, in a recent Drum survey, did:

  • 72% of people say they do other work in the meetings they attend?
  • 32% say they don’t speak up in meetings for fear they would look stupid, worried they’d missed the point, don’t know the ropes, or their contribution is not valued?
  • 85% say meetings need to change?

Healthy meeting culture is not what you think.

They said this because a good meeting culture has got pretty much nothing to do with agendas, pre-reads, and outcomes.

If it did, we’d be all sorted. You can have the brightest minds in the room, but if the conversation is dominated by two extraverts it doesn’t take a genius to realise decisions are not going to be as creative or strong as they could be. It’s the same if there’s little clarity on what the meeting is really for, why someone is there, or people are not paying attention.

This is a grand collusion where we know our meeting culture is broken but we let it carry on. It sustains because it’s hard to do something about it.

Here’s why it’s hard to change it.

  1. Few people have the skills to genuinely run a good meeting. They need to be able to park the ego, let the conversation go where it needs, encourage healthy conflict in the room and inspire compelling conversations. Not everyone is going to fit into an agenda or a set structure in every meeting. Knowing how to navigate this is an art; not many people have been taught it.
  2. It’s not a priority.  We value operations and tasks over thinking. Meetings culture change requires committed focus from everyone. If it’s not seen as important, this is tricky to pull off.
  3. A good meeting must have the space for healthy conflict.  People don’t like that. We place a lot of emphasis on getting on well – but the risk is we don’t have the necessary challenge for the best decisions.

Where can you start?

A first step is for you to become aware of where you might be leaking resources, value, and creativity in meetings. Here’re some things to look for:

  • Two or three people do all the talking.
  • Meetings are all update and no discussion.
  • Everyone agrees all the time.
  • You have to call on people to get their input, it’s frustrating.
  • You feel bored before you’ve even started.
  • Diaries are simply inhumanly too full.

We need to fundamentally rethink what and how we use meetings. We must grow leaders who are confident in running great meetings and focussed on growing a healthy meeting culture. When you are interviewing new managers and leaders, ask how they are at this.  This is the future of strong leaders that will take, not just your meeting culture, but your business to where it needs to be.

To discuss improving your meeting culture, coach programmes or any other aspect of people development contact Ginny Baillie at Drum on [email protected] or visit

*Drum survey Feb 2023

Business News Wales