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How to improve your marketing meetings - instantly!

Do you attend meetings where you feel like you are being pulled through a fixed agenda, a bit like you’ve...

Do you attend meetings where you feel like you are being pulled through a fixed agenda, a bit like you’ve climbed into a verbal straight jacket?

Let’s talk!
With some careful planning and pre-work you can reap the rewards of this simple but powerful skill we have. We spend valuable time getting people to come along to marketing meetings and attending marketing meetings. Here are six practical steps to maximise this time.

Before we start, be absolutely clear about why you want a group of people to meet. Ask yourself what could be achieved together that couldn’t be achieved separately. When you’re clear about the reason and you have communicated this to the group, here are six suggestions to get them really talking.

  1. Reduce the number of items on your agenda by half
    Remove anything that is information sharing and circulate this before the meeting. Fewer agenda items will give you time for better depth of discussion which in turn will help you to reach robust decisions (that will stick beyond the meeting.)
  2. Create a physical space that encourages conversation
    How many of the worlds’ greatest innovations or breakthroughs have happened in a formal boardroom setting? Choose a comfortable setting, play music as people arrive and in breaks (this creates a clear but simple distinction between work and chill time), use small group seating (it is much easier to interact and encourages better share of voice from the whole group).
  3. Consider using a facilitator
    Senior marketers are often responsible for the content of a meeting as well as managing the structure and flow of the meeting itself. If you know the meeting will be highly pressured, either because of the complexity or sensitive nature of the subject matter, or because of the different characters attending, then consider using
    an independent facilitator. They can help you in the lead up to the meeting and/or at the meeting itself. This may be beneficial if you know the group need to face into tough items including working with and through conflict.
  4. Try something different
    Use a format designed to encourage good conversation. World Café ( is a simple and hugely effective process for encouraging and linking important conversations so that you get answers to meaty questions. It promotes good quality conversation and when followed up well, leads to tangible results. Open Space Technology ( is another framework that encourages meaningful discussions.
  5. Use tried and tested thinking processes
    The Strategic Visioning Process created by David Sibbet at The Grove Consulting( is a superb and rigorous process. It guides a group through a series of discussions so that they develop a vision and the strategies to achieve it. This approach uses large wall templates that provide a brilliant framework within which people can talk. You are also left with a superb record of the conversations at the end of the meeting.
  6. Vary how you work through each agenda item
    Avoid ‘group think’ and encourage the more reflective members of the group to have a voice. Give people thinking time by working in pairs or small groups. This really helps those who are naturally reflective or introverted. Give space for personal reflection by sending them outside or to a different area to do their thinking. Mix things up. Be creative!

Next time you plan a meeting, whether it’s two people, ten people or a much larger
group, think carefully about how you can make the experience valuable for everyone attending. And I mean REALLY valuable. Don’t just focus on pulling the agenda together. Think about how you will get the best from the time you have together. Get people to focus on the right subject, let them talk, let them engage, then stand back and wait for superb results!