How to ruin a meeting before it’s started

26th February 2019

First impressions drive everything.

And, with your meetings, there are two critical ‘first impression things’:

  1. The invite – this is the first people hear about your meeting; and
  2. Your opening sentence in the meeting – that sets the tone for what follows

So make sure yours are good.

But let’s face it, most aren’t, are they?

I mean, look at today’s diary invites. How many look interesting?

None, right?

And this makes it very easy to raise yours above the norm:

  1. In your invite – in your title, include the meeting’s outcome – ‘Meeting to agree actions and priorities about X’, ‘Meeting to agree next steps with Y’, etc
  2. In the meeting – in your intro, use this same ‘outcome wording’ – ‘This meeting is to help us agree our actions and priorities with X. I’ve scheduled 30 minutes. But, as soon as we’re agreed, we’ll finish’


  • Engages people before it
  • Enthuses them at the start of it
  • Focuses them, because they know it might end early

Or you could just call it ‘update’, include no agenda, and then start with ‘Same stuff. Different day. Let’s try and get through this without killing each other. Or ourselves.’

Action Point

For your next meeting, spend a few minutes creating an enticing diary invitation, and an engaging opening sentence. Everything will be better if you do.

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