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by Alice Alessandri

“I’m sorry, the manager is still in a meeting, he’ll call you back” very often this overused excuse hides a sad reality of many businesses: the never-ending meetings which – instead of simplifying business processes – make them more complicated and destroy constructive relationships.  
In this second article dedicated to ethical leaders we’ll consider how this “tool” can be used effectively to provide priceless value in terms of exchange with colleagues, sharing of ideas and motivation.

First of all let’s be clear, unproductive meetings are a massive waste of time and – as we know – in business wasted time also means wasted money:

to calculate how much a meeting actually costs, consider the hourly duration of the meeting and multiply it by the number of attendees and again by their hourly salaries; then add up the time needed to accomplish all pending tasks.

meetingPhoto you-x-ventures by UnSplash


Therefore it’s essential that the cost/benefit ratio is well balanced when organizing a meeting!

This is the kind of question people ask when they are invited at the last minute by managers who probably don’t even bother thinking “What’s the purpose of this meeting?” The result is very likely to be a bored non participative audience led by a confused speaker.

Let’s start from the beginning: here is a list of questions ethical leaders should bear in mind when organizing a meeting.

  • Why am I calling this meeting and what is the expected outcome?
    If you ask yourself this question you will lay the foundations for a successful meeting. The main purpose might be informative or operational (making decisions together) or even extraordinary, i.e. depending on specific and urgent reasons.
  • Who should I invite?
    Only involve those who really need to be there, communicating date, time and location well in advance. When you send your invites don’t forget to enclose the meeting agenda which should not include more than is reasonably achievable within the timeframe of the meeting itself. This will allow your colleagues to arrive fully prepared and play an active part in the discussion.
  • How much time do I need?
    Starting and finishing your meetings on time shows respect towards your own time and that of your team-mates. Moreover it adds value to the event, which will be remembered as a positive experience by your attendees! Remember that body and mind have limited resistance, therefore schedule a break at least every 90 minutes to allow the participants to drink some water and stretch their legs. If you are discussing a very broad topic, I suggest you break it down into shorter meetings with timetabled goals.

workplacePhoto Austin Distel by UnSplash


  • Which venue and which tools should I choose?
    Choose a quiet location providing a relaxing context which optimizes communication, comfort and concentration. If you ask your attendees not to use their mobile phones, you should set a good example by not using yours! I also suggest you strengthen your verbal communication with supporting tools such ad boards, PowerPoint presentations, images and printed material. While preparing this extra material, bear in mind that these tools are intended for public use, therefore they should be clear and easily understandable. Another very important aspect is the arrangement of the participants and the seating plan. As this is a very complex topic we will publish a specific post soon: our friend and colleague Marzia Mazzi, who is an expert in wellness architecture and workplace health, will talk about this on diariodiunconsulente.
  • How can I engage the attendees?
    If what you want is an audience of thinking attendees and not one of zombies, you need to keep your team engaged. Make sure you encourage discussion items by creating the right atmosphere and stimulating communication with open questions such as “what do you think of…?”. Remember that every time you ask a question you must listen actively to the answers, allowing everybody to express their point of view and thanking every participant for their contribution.
  • How should I close the meeting?
    How you end your meeting is just as important – if not more important – than how you start it, because that’s what the attendees will remember best. It should be clear to all participants if the objective of the meeting has been reached, everybody should leave knowing exactly what to do next. I suggest you dedicate a few minutes to remind participants of the actions assigned, who is responsible for each one and what the completion deadlines are.
    One last tip: enjoy yourself and smile as much as possible! Have a good meeting everyone…
| partem claram semper aspice |

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Alice Alessandri

Consultant and professional trainer, I define myself as an "odd computer scientist": I graduated in Computer Science and immediately opted for the sector of interpersonal communication. In over a decade of experience as an entrepreneur, I laid the foundations for what would become my most important project, Passodue: a consulting and training company that combines profit and ethics, professional success and happiness. Together with Alberto, I help companies to take their second step towards a success based on ethics and sound relationships.

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